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Michigan State University

HNF 406: Global Foods and Culture

Guide to library resources for students in HNF 406. Last updated: 8/16/21.

Finding Journal Articles

Before You Begin

The topic of a country's food culture is generally the topic of books; journal articles are very focused. So, first think about what a focused topic might look like: the dietary implications of a particular pattern of eating? A food frequency questionnaire given to a particular population? Holiday, wedding, or feast foods? Psychosocial aspects of eating, such as attitudes toward food? Changing meal patterns? Acculturation/assimilation of immigrant groups into the United States? A particular food? There are scholarly articles on the submarine sandwich and the geography of Italian pasta shapes!

Think about what you might want to say in your paper, then look for articles that might substantiate that. This might conceivably lead you into the nutrition, sociology, psychology, history, religion, etc. literature. At first glance, many articles might look totally unhelpful; however, even though the entire article is not of interest, perhaps a portion of it will be helpful. Read the abstract! For example, an article on the dietary status of a particular population might first need to document the eating habits, so there may be a chart or description of the main components of the diet. When you do find a useful article (or even book), go through the references at the end to see if there are citations to other useful articles.

To find articles on a particular topic in magazines and journals, you cannot use the library catalog: you must use a database. Most include abstracts summarizing the article content and some provide the full text of articles. A database may be subject-specific or cross-disciplinary; it may cover just the popular literature, only scholarly publications, or a mixture. The Libraries have a helpful video and chart about distinguishing between popular vs. scholarly periodicals.

Choosing a Database

For help in identifying an appropriate database, browse the electronic databases by subject using the drop down menu. Depending on your research, you may need to browse several subjects: e.g., Food Science & Nutrition, Sociology, Psychology, History, Ethnic Studies, etc. Some suggested databases are listed below.

Once you've connected to the desired database, you can search for articles by keyword(s). Depending on whether you are searching the nutrition, psychology, sociology, etc. literature, your keywords might be different, because of the subject focus of the database. "Greek" or "Greece" and "dietary assessment" or "food intake" might work well in PubMed, but in Sociological Abstracts you would expect the emphasis to be more on foodways, holidays, food culture, etc. as opposed to nutritional status. So, be flexible in your choice of terminology and consider synonyms (foodways vs. food habits; cookery vs. cooking vs. cuisine) and various word endings (e.g., singular vs. plural). Examine the subject headings or descriptors associated with articles of interest to identify other potentially useful keywords.

Accessing Full Text

To find the full text of articles:

  1. First, while in the database, look for the white full text buttons.    White full text button.
  2. Check the A to Z Electronic Journal list.
  3. Search the MSU Libraries Catalog.
    1. Enter the NAME of JOURNAL.
    2. Select PERIODICAL TITLES AT MSU from menu.
  4. Place a MARS or ILL request.

Note: You cannot use the catalog to find individual articles within a journal. For this you must search in the journal itself or use an article database.

Recommended Databases

Michigan State University