Library Instruction

Finding Journal Articles On a Topic

To find articles in the Schurz Library, you'll need to start by using a journal database. To access the journal databases, go to the Library website, and look for the "Articles" tab in the SEARCH section.

A good place to start is almost always the Ebscohost Academic Search Premier database, which is the main choice in the search box. There are a number of databases available from Ebscohost that you can search by selecting the link below, or you can explore other database by clicking on the "Find More Articles" link. You can also look at the Subject Guides available from the Library website. Within those broad subjects, we've noted some useful databases. Or if you want some expert guidance on which database to choose, you can ask a reference librarian.

Once in a journal database, you'll begin by using keywords to search your topic. Keyword searching in most library databases is fairly simple: type in the key words from your research question. For example, if I want to do research on whether or not medication is overprescribed in the case of attention deficit disorder, I might type in the phrase ADD and medication. You can also begin your search with a single concept as a way to help you narrow your research topic. For example, I might type in attention deficit disorder in order to see what kinds of research existed on that topic.

It's important to think like a thesaurus when you're using keyword searching. For example, in the search ADD and medication, I might make these substitutions in order to get good search results:

For ADD, try:
Attention Deficit Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder
Attention deficit

For medication, try:
Prescription drugs

You can also look carefully at an article's item record to find out what subject headings or official terminology were assigned to that article when it was entered into the database. That terminology is often the most precise way to search. For more information or assistance with this concept (librarians call it controlled vocabulary), just ask a librarian.

Last Reviewed: 03/2014