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Finding Articles in Library Databases : in 6 Steps

Use this process to find scholarly (peer-reviewed, academic) and popular (newspapers, magazine) articles in library databases.

  1. Define your research question or topic (You did this in Step 1 of the Research Process, and will need it to effectively search databases.) EXAMPLE: What is the impact of air quality on children with asthma?
  2. Break it down - Pick out hte core concepts (usually noun and noun phrases). EXAMPLE: air quality, children, asthma
  3. Identify 1-2 synonyms for each core concept. EXAMPLE: air quality = pollution ; children = youth, adolescents ; asthma = "bronchial asthma"
  4. Combine your keywords with AND; synonyms with OR. EXAMPLE: (air quality OR pollution) AND (children OR youth OR adolescents) AND asthma
  5. Enter your search phrase in a relevant database. Library databases are at http://ulib.iupui.edu. EXAMPLES: General Databases - Academic Search Premier, ProQuest Central, JSTOR; Subject Databases - ERIC (Education), PubMed (Medicine), PsycINFO (Psychology)
  6. Look at your results and modify your search if necessary. If you get thousands of results, your search is too broad. If you only get a few results, your search is too narrow. Use relevant results to help you identify other keywords. Look at the bibliographies or relevant articles to find other relevant articles. If you don't get any relevant hits, brainstorm different keywords. Background Information (Step 2 of the Research Process) can help you find keywords.

Conclusion: Researching your topic or research in databases takes time. You won't always get relevant results the first time you search. Modify and give it another try!