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How to Research a Topic

Use these steps to research a topic and document your sources.

Locating Articles

  1. Search WorldCat Discovery (the main search box on the library homepage)
    OR
    Select a database: Browse the A-Z Databases page by title or subject and select a database.
  2. Search for an article: Start with a keyword search. Enter your search terms in the search box.
  3. Select an article: After submitting your search, you'll get a list of articles from which to choose.
  4. View your article: Most databases include the full text of the articles along with the citations. If so, then your search is complete! Just click on the full text link (may be labeled HTML or PDF). However, sometimes you will only get a citation for an article.

 

If the full text isn't available, try these options:

  1. See if the article is available in another database: Click on  to search for full text of the article in our other databases.
     
  2. Find the print version: If the article isn't available in a database, check WorldCat Discovery for print holdings of the journal in our library or nearby libraries (U of M, Rhodes).
If Plough Library has it:
If Plough Library does NOT have it:
  • Locate it on the Periodicals shelves.
  • Recent issues are shelved alphabetically by title on the main floor. Back issues are on the library's lower level in the Periodical Stacks. 
  • If no local library has the article, submit an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request using the Article Request Form.

Types of Journals

  • Scholarly or Professional Journals (aka Peer-Reviewed): contain articles published by scholars or experts in a specific field. Usually based on original research, they are peer-reviewed (or refereed), meaning they are read and approved by other scholars before being published. They include author credentials, abstracts, and bibliographies.
  • Popular Magazines: contain current events, news, and general interest articles for the general public. They are written primarily to inform and entertain. (Examples: Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone)
  • Trade Publications: fall somewhere in between scholarly and popular periodicals and cover a particular trade or industry. Authors are usually specialists in an industry who write to give practical information to people in their field. 
TIP: Easily limit your search to scholarly or peer-reviewed articles in EBSCO or Gale databases.

EBSCO Databases have a
"Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" limit

 
Gale Databases can limit
to "Peer Reviewed Journals"

Identify Scholarly, Popular, or Trade Journals

Scholarly
Popular
Trade
Examples
American Economic Review,
Journal of Biomechanics
National Geographic, Glamour, Sports Illustrated Advertising Age, Sight and Sound, Industry Week
Author
scholars, researchers, or experts in the field magazine staff writers or free-lance writers specialists or practitioners in the profession or industry
Audience
scholars, researchers, professionals, and students general public members of a specific profession or industry
Sources
always cite their sources in the form of a bibliography or footnotes rarely cite sources occasionally cite sources
Peer-Reviewed (Refereed)
articles are reviewed by an author's peers before publication
no peer-review (articles reviewed by an editor or an editorial board)
no peer-review process
Advertisements
minimal, select advertising, usually geared towards the discipline extensive advertising, aimed at the general public usually contains advertisements that are trade or industry related
Appearance
plain cover and paper, lengthy articles with abstracts, minimal pictures other than graphics within articles attractive format, glossy paper, short articles with no formal structure, many pictures attractive format, glossy paper, short to medium-length articles with no formal structure, heavily illustrated

Plough Library · Christian Brothers University
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