Woodcut from the “Dance of Death.” Printed by Matthias Huss at Lyon, 1499.
Image form Art Museum Image Gallery.
Journal articles represent the focused work of a scholar, as opposed to the greater breadth & depth of a book. However, sometimes a topic may not merit book-length treatment, and a shorter journal article might be the best resource for covering it.
For locating citations for articles, you have the choice of using either print indexes, or their modern, computerized incarnation known as databases.
Most databases began in the late 1980's or early 1990's. Therefore, in many of them, they do not list (or index) article citations published previous to the beginning of the database. You may wish to note when the coverage begins of a database. With topics in the world of medieval & renaissance studies, (as opposed to the sciences or medicine, where the latest is often the most important) older articles can age well. You may need to use print indexes to locate older citations.
Databases, for the most part, are a mix of citations & citations with the full-text. Most of our databaes will either provide a linke to the full-text or an option to request the article through InterLibrary Loan.
As with all aspects of your research, the sooner you look for information allows you the greatest chance to obtain the best quality sources.