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Find Information — Searching for Articles

Articles as research inquiry : Focused and detailed

Why use articles instead of or in addition to books? Depends on your needs.

  • You need really current research or news reports
  • Your interest is specific not broad (and you have a good background understanding or your topic)
  • Required in your assignment or by your professor (primary research, peer-reviewed article, eye-witness accounts, etc.)

Where are articles found? In periodicals which are found in databases.

Periodical -- as its name might imply -- is something that appears periodically, namely daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. Each time they are published, the content is completely new and different from any previous issues.

  • Newspapers - Who, what, when, where. Basic vocabulary, current news, eye-witness accounts, (current and historical)
  • Magazines - easy reading, informative, general public readership
  • Scholarly journals (aka peer-reviewed, academic, refereed, research) - Analysis & research: College level
  • Professional or Trade periodicals - more news and short reports on updates for professionals working in their field

How do articles differ from books?

  • Articles are short: from part of a page to 20 or more pages. Usually, they are between 5 and 10 pages. 
  • Their focus is specific: one event, one experiment, one historical moment or short time period, one hypothesis, etc.
  • A scholarly article title is long and descriptive. It describes the issues or problems being researched and sometimes more. It summarizes the content of the article.
  • Newspaper and magazine article titles may be cryptic and may entice you to read them. For example:
Peer-reviewed article title Newspaper article title

"Strength training versus robot-assisted gait training after 
incomplete spinal cord injury: a randomized pilot study
in patients depending on walking assistance" from 

Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation

"The Skinny on This Hot Workout: Fans Gain
Seam-Busting Bulk." (Wall Street Journal)

Search Tips

To find the two articles above, the keywords used were -- strength training.

When searching for articles in databases, do not write a question or sentence. Use specific relevant terms (mainly nouns) in separate boxes and perhaps add synonyms all in one box with OR between them. Say we wanted to add an age group to be more specific. Example:

Line 1 : Strength training

Line 2 : college students OR adolescents (using synonyms increases your number and breadth of search results)

Line 3 : (if you have any other qualifier)

Most of our databases allow you to add even more lines. Each concept on a separate line! Your results will improve.

Now it's your turn.

 

Where to find articles

If you have not been told which database to use, a great place to start is in Databases - General (Interdisciplinary Topics).

These are the best collections of articles for beginning your research:

Here is the complete list of General (Interdisciplinary Topics) databases.

Remember the Abstract?

Peer-reviewed articles (the kind you'll find a lot of through the library) have abstracts. It's a quick summary of the article you're about to go through. What's so great about abstracts?

According to a group of college students interviewed "abstracts “saved time” because they “knew the argument” before they started and the entire article was “easy to figure out.” 

One freshmen  from that group said:
"Journal articles are completely new to me, I never read one in high school. Three out of four of my classes here have used journal articles in some shape or form, so I've been thrown into a sea of journal articles. The abstract definitely helps, it's so lovely, and it gives you a summary and it says, here is what we tested, here are our methods, so look for this when you are reading the paper because if you can’t catch this you are clearly on the wrong track!"

So, when you're looking for journal articles check out the abstract!