The structure of a ejournal can appear very strange if, like many of my current students, you have never known the world of print journals. I’ve found the following story useful in explaining to my students why online journals are structured in the way they are.
When an academic writes a document about their particular area of research, this document often takes the form of a short paper called an article. In the pre-internet days of print publishing, academics would send their article to a publisher, who would then publish it together with other articles by other academics, in an issue. An issue would be printed at intervals throughout the year: perhaps monthly or quarterly.In the library, issues were arranged in order on the shelves. At the end of each year, they would be stitched together and given a hardback cover for protection, and this collection of issues was called a volume. The volume may have been named after the year (e.g. 1997), or given a number (e.g. Vol. 40).The journal is thus made up of volumes, each containing a number of issues, each containing a number of articles.
Although many articles are now published electronically, rather than in print, the same structure is used for online journals.