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Beginner's Guide to Databases and IUCAT Searching: Searching an Article Database

This guide is designed to help you conduct database and IUCAT searches.

Why use a database?

The library subscribes to databases to provide access to periodical articles.  The content contained in these databases are typically not freely available on the internet.  You have to pay to get access to them.  But with an article database, the library is paying for that access for you.  That's why you have to go through the database to get the articles.

Don't ever pay to download an article from the internet--talk to a librarian, and we can more than likely get you a copy of the article at no charge to you.  That's what libraries do! 

Searching for information on your topic in an article database

Step 1: Using the search queries you came up with on the previous page, conduct searches in one of the article databases you identified to locate articles on your topic. If you do not get any results, try rephrasing your search using the list of words you generated on the previous page.

A good database to start with is Academic Search Premier, which is the world's largest academic multi-disciplinary database, Academic Search Premier provides full-text for nearly 4,700 publications, including full-text for more than 3,600 peer-reviewed journals.

Step 2: Review the first few search results by reading the titles, abstracts, and subject headings of each citation. How can this information be useful to you at this stage of your research? What clues are available to help you determine quality, credibility, and relevance to your information need?

Step 3: Experiment with the search limiters available (e.g. limit by date range, full-text only, etc.) and conduct a new search. How do these limiters affect your search results?

Step 4: Try using AND to add in another search term. For example, if your initial query was multiculturalism and college students, try multiculturalism and identity and college students. What additional term did you use, and how did the addition of this term affect your search results?

Step 5: Choose one relevant article from your search results. How did you determine its relevance? Can you use any of this information to conduct new searches?

Subject Guide