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Library search engines (databases) are a great place to find scholarly journal articles or other sources for your paper. Each search engine has a different flavor/subject area it covers. If the full text isn’t right there, click the Find It button. If we don’t have the article, you can request it from another library by clicking the “get this article or book chapter” link. (The turnaround time on this is usually about 2 days.)
We all know you can use Google, but did you know it has an advanced search? You can use it to limit to just .gov or .org websites. But don't forget it's up to you to evaluate whether or not the website is a credible one.
How to Find Books
Special Librarian Search Tips
Use "quotation marks" around a phrase you search for that phrase and not the words separately
Check your spelling. Most of these search engines won't spell check for you
The more words you search for the fewer results you'll get. So if you don't have enough results, take a search term away...don't add more!
Create a list of keywords you've used that work, so when you search the next database you remember.
Keywords and Subjects aren't the same thing?
Keywords are simply those words you type into the search box to get the results you want. Just like in Google, you don't type your whole question, just the important words or terms that will help you get the answers. Remember to consider synonyms when you create your keyword list.
So what are subjects then? Subjects are a specific word or phrase some librarian has assigned to a particular topic. Basically it's a tag we attach to articles or books. Why would we do that? Because that way when you search for that specific word or phrase you get EVERYTHING that has been tagged with that term. You can find these subjects (or subject headings) in the library catalog and most databases (except JSTOR). Usually they live along the left side bar or in the middle of the record (when you click on a specific book or article).
What should I be thinking about when evaluating sources?
Who wrote it? Can you find their name? Are they trustworthy? Are they an expert in the field? Is it an organization? A government agency? A random person? A student? A journalist?
When was it written? Or last updated? Does that matter? Could the information have changed?
Who is the source intended for? The general public? Professionals/experts? Students?
Why does the site exist? Is it trying to sell you something? Persuade you about an issue? Provide factual information? Provide an opinion?
What organization is behind the site? What is their connection to the issue? Are they potentially biased?
*Tip: Use the About Us section or go to the base URL, which is everything up to & including the domain (.com, .gov, .org, .edu).
What's the difference between scholarly and popular again?
You've heard there's a difference between scholarly and popularly sources. Check out this sock puppet theatre video to give you an idea of the difference.
That's not all though. Don't forget to think about who wrote the articles and who they are written for. Scholarly articles are written by...wait for it...scholars. And by scholars, we mean professors, researchers, and scientists: people who are experts in their fields. So who writes popular articles? For the most part it's journalists, whose expertise is usually writing, not the content area they are writing about.
As for audience, scholarly articles are written for other experts in the field and students in those areas. This means you'll sometimes get words or specialized terms that you may not know. Don't be afraid to look them up. Popular sources are written for everyone, so you get generalized language that might be a bit less specific.