Searching Databases

In most databases you can do a search for your topic by keyword to find articles, using AND, OR, or NOT to connect your terms and concepts.

  • Write out your topic in a sentence or phrase (make sure you're topic is specific enough)
  • Break it into the important concepts
  • Be sure to think of as many synonyms or alternate terms as you can
  • Connect your concepts with AND and your similar terms with OR (use not to exclude common meanings you don't want)

Most databases let you use a symbol (*) to indicate words that begin with certain letters (at least three) and have any ending. Therefore, effect* will get you effect and effects. Check the Search Tips or Help to find out what the symbol (usually called a truncation or wildcard symbol) is called in your database.

When you find an article in a database look at the subject headings, keywords, and descriptors that the database uses to classify any articles specifically about that topic and you can use these to re-search by subject to narrow your search.


You can then choose whether you want scholarly, peer-reviewed articles or articles from popular magazine or newspapers in the tabs at the top.


Learn more about popular and scholarly articles here: What's the difference between popular and scholarly articles?

On this page scroll past the sections; Initial appraisal, Content analysis and Evaluating Web resources to get to the section on Distinguishing scholarly from non-scholarly periodicals (articles and papers).

Finding Full-Text Articles not in the Database

You want the full text of articles, right? There are several ways to find them and it depends on what you are looking for.

If you have citations for specific articles: use the Library Catalog to see if we subscribe to the journals that contain the articles. Do a Journal Title search (or a Journal Title Abbreviation search if you're not sure of the full title). The Catalog will show whether or not we have access to the electronic version and/or the print version; if we have neither, you can still request the articles via Interlibrary Loan.

Finding Newspaper Articles

Finding Popular Articles

A number of databases (collections of articles) at the library will let you search thousands of news and magazine articles at once. The ones listed below are a few of the most popular.