There are two types of research journals. The first is an academic publication of peer reviewed articles in a given field, which presents research as a straightforward and clear process. The second type of research journal is usually kept by qualitative researchers and exhibits the messy business that research often is, showing the researcher's journey and contains the reasons why they made one decision instead of another.
Peer reviewed academic journals publish accounts of recent research in different subject areas. The primary emphasis in these journals is on the methods the researcher uses to reach the conclusions they make in the article.
The second type of research journal is an ordinary journal that a researcher takes with him or her into the field. According to Bryman (2004), the journal should be a record of the methods the researcher used, why the researcher preferred one method over another and the researcher's own observations, sometimes referred to as analytic memos.
The academic research journal is significant because it is a record of new research and knowledge in a particular academic discipline. The Journal of Family Practice, for example, contains articles, book reviews and new research in primary care. Before an article can be published in a journal, it must be reviewed and accepted by a panel of the researcher's academic peers. According to the Linux Information Project, peer reviewing refers to the process of evaluating the quality of a piece of written work in a given academic field.
The field research journal is significant because it is the researcher's record of what he or she has seen and heard. Most researchers will transfer their notes to the computer and transform them into a complete research paper or journal article.
A research journal will accept only those articles that have passed the scrutiny of a panel of peer reviewers. A peer review of an article (in an academic or scientific context) takes place before an article is published. A major problem with the peer review system is that it can take up to one year for an article to be published.
A working research journal serves as a useful record and is often used in conjunction with recorded interviews. The researcher may take notes about the body language of an interviewee during an interview. In some quarters, particularly in statistical research, the journal would not be used because it is seen as too subjective.
The function of a research journal is to present new research, which is especially important in medicine and other scientific areas. In the social sciences, the research journal often serves as a means of examining different methods and approaches to research. The working research journal serves as the basis for a researcher's findings in the field and his or her own thoughts and analysis of the process.
Both types of research journals have their own benefits. Academic research journals are the place to look for cutting-edge knowledge and research in a particular field. A working research journal is the way for a researcher to keep track of not only data and personal impressions, but also research methodology and reasons the researcher chooses one path over another.