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Introduction to Scholarly Research: Library Databases

An introduction to scholarly research for use in CWRR I classes.

Finding Articles at Staley Library

1. Begin at the Library's homepage (http://www.millikin.edu/staley).

  You can also start at the myMillikin page. Look for the "Academics" section on the right and then click on "Library Databases."

2. Click on the "Search Databases" button under "Find Articles, Audio & Video."

screenshot of the search databases button

3. You can access the databases by name or by subject.

screenshot of the databases by subject listing

4. Unless you have a specific database in mind, think about what you are researching. Your topic is part of what subjects? Click on the subject(s) for your topic.

5. You will then see a listing of database for your topic. Click on one of them to begin searching. Keep in mind that different database will return different results, even in the same subject area, so make sure to try more than one!

screenshot of the business databases list

6. Each database is a little different, but they all have some things in common.

7. Every database has a box where you can type in the words for your search. Most database have multiple boxes. Try putting each of your search concepts in a separate box.

screenshot of keyword entry in a database

8. After you have conducted your search you will see a list of results.

9. In most databases you will be presented with options for narrowing down your results. These limits may include date, format type, subject, age, geographic location, etc.

screenshot of database limit results

10. When you find an article that looks interesting, click on the title to find out more about it.

11. The abstract is a short summary of the article. The subject terms are what the article is about and can be clicked on to find more articles on the same subject.

screenshot of subject terms listing

Tips for Searching in Library Databases

  • Use keywords for your search (rather than entire phrases or sentences) and put each keyword in a separate search box.
  • More keywords = narrower search = fewer results.
    Fewer keywords = broader search = more results.
  • Use the limiters in the database (date, type of articles, etc.) to focus your search, but be careful with the full text limiter. It may eliminate quality articles that you can access in another database or retrieve through interlibrary loan.
  • There are no perfect number of results; it depends on your topic and the purpose of your research. However, it is not unreasonable to look through 30 or 40 results, i.e., multiple pages of results, to find several good articles on your topic.
  • In your results pay attention to the abstract and subject terms, both can provide ideas for additional search terms.
  • A useful search technique is to find one good article on your topic and then use the information from that article (subject terms, abstract, author name, etc.) to find more articles like it.
  • Use the bibliography or works cited section of an article on your topic to find more articles (and books).
  • Make sure to search multiple databases. Each database contains unique articles and will provide different results, even if you use the same search terms.
  • Be patient! Searching a library database is much different than using a search engine like Google. Library databases offer powerful features to help searchers find just the right article, but like driving a race car at high speed, it takes some practice before you get good at it.

Finding the Full Text of Articles

So, you have found an article in a library database that looks interesting and now you want to read the entire article? Here's how you do it.

1. After clicking on the title in the results list, look through the record for a link that says "PDF Full Text," "HTML Full Text" or "View PDF." Any of these options will show you the entire article, which you can then download.

screenshot of the full text links

 HTML Full Text is only the text of the article, while the PDF Full Text contains all of the charts, graphs, and images in the original article.

 A great way to save your article for later is to use the email option. You can email the article to any email address and in most databases you can send an APA or MLA style citation as well.

screenshot of email database option

2. If there is no link to the full text article, look for the "Find It!" button.

screenshot of the Find It button

3. After you click on the Find It button, you will be taken to a new window that will give you different options for getting the full text of the article.

Option #1 – Access Electronic Full Text

screenshot of full text available link

Sometimes articles will be available electronically in another database. Look for a link that says "Full text available via" and then a database name. Click on the link and you'll be taken to the database where you can access the full text.

Option #2 – Check Print Availability

screenshot of check print availability link

Sometimes the library owns the journal in print or microfilm. You'll need to check the years of the journal that the library owns and if it matches the year of the article that you are looking for. If so, you can photocopy or scan the article.

Option #3 – Request Through Interlibrary Loan

screeshot of the interlibrary loan link

If the library does not have electronic access to the article or own it in print, then you can request a copy through Interlibrary Loan.

Click the link that says "No full text? We can request it for you." This will open a new window. You'll be asked to log in to myMillikin (if you aren't logged in already). Check to make sure that the request looks correct and then click "Submit Request."

screenshot of the submit request button

You will receive an email when your article is available in your ILLiad account.