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BHEARD Research Guide : Finding Articles


To search the contents of magazines, journals, and newspapers for articles on a particular topic, you may need to use a separate tool from the Library catalog, depending on the set-up at your particular U.S. university. Article indexes or databases may be subject-specific or cross-disciplinary; they may include only research articles or a mixture of scholarly, popular literature, and trade publications. Consult this chart for help distinguishing between popular, scholarly, and trade periodicals. Most article databases include abstracts summarizing the article content and some provide the full text of articles.

Which index/database should I use?

There are hundreds of article databases, covering different fields and journals. Librarians are always happy to suggest an appropriate database for a particular research topic, but library homepages generally provide a listing by subject to help users identify an appropriate index/database on their own. MSU Library users can browse indexes by subject using a drop-down menu. Depending on your research topic, you may need to explore resources in several subject fields (e.g., Agriculture, African Studies, Biological Sciences, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine) and search several indexes.

Once you've connected to the desired index/database, you can search for articles by keyword(s). Different databases may use different terminology or spelling, so be flexible in your choice of keywords, considering synonyms/alternate terms (e.g., genetically modified organisms vs. GMOs; drought resistance vs. drought tolerance) 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.

Core databases available in most U.S. university libraries. Links for MSU users are provided.

What about Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is a simple tool for conducting a broad search for scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. While you are a student at MSU (or another U.S. university), you can set up your Google Scholar Preferences in order to gain seamless access to that university's subscriptions.      

African sources: Africana (African Studies) at the MSU Libraries

Subject Guide

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Anita Ezzo
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