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Information for W132
These databases are indexes to journal articles. You can find articles on your topics by using keyword and subject searches. In many cases the database will lead you to the full text of the article online.
|If your topic relates to:||Try these databases:|
Good starting places for all topics
First Amendment issues
also try UL's Law Research Guide
|Pros and cons on all topics||Opposing Viewpoints in Context|
|Databases on other subjects|
Article Databases by Subject
To find out more about the journal you're using
Don't limit yourself to one database or you will miss articles in other journals. Explore and experiment, mix and match!
How can you tell the difference between and scholarly journals and popular magazines? The table shown below lists some differences between scholarly and popular sources.
|Long articles; in-depth coverage of research/study||Short articles summarizing research/issues|
|Geared to scholars, researchers, professionals||Geared to the general public|
|Articles include many bibliographical references||Few, if any, bibliographical references|
|Few ads; few photos unless related to research||Many ads and photos|
|Often issued quarterly||Usually issued weekly or monthly or daily (newspapers)|
|Often sponsored by academic/professional group|
Before you start entering any search terms, spend a few minutes trying to think of as many relevant terms and combinations of terms as you can. This will help you to avoid getting stuck in a rut with the first terms that come to mind.
If you need help in coming up with terms, you may want to try the "Thesaurus" or "Subject Headings" features in the database you've chosen.
Check out the "Help" or "Search Tips" to learn some of the search features specific to that database. Most databases provide similar features, but the methods may vary. Some common tricks:
- truncation = To use truncation, enter the root of a search term and replace the ending with an * (asterisk). For example, type comput* to find the words computer or computing.
- searching a phrase = Typically, when a phrase is enclosed by double quotations marks, the exact phrase is searched. For example, "employee retention" searches for the two words as a phrase.
- Boolean terms (AND, OR, NOT) =
- AND combines search terms so that each search result contains all of the terms. For example, travel and Europe finds articles that contain both travel and Europe.
- OR combines search terms so that each search result contains at least one of the terms. For example, college or university finds results that contain either college or university.
- NOT excludes terms so that each search result does not contain any of the terms that follow it. For example, television not cable finds results that contain television but not cable.
Try the databases' Advanced Search feature, which usually gives you the ability to search multiple fields (author, title, keyword, subject, etc) with one search and may offer additional ways to expand or limit your search.
Who is the author?
- First of all, the author should be identified. The author can be one or more people or organizations.
- At a minimum, in order to be considered credible, the author of the information source should have credentials and expertise, such as academic degrees and experience, relevant to the topic.
- Even authors with credentials and expertise in a field may be biased or may have made a mistake in their research or writing. The most credible information sources are those that have been reviewed and accepted by a group of experts in the field.
Who published this information?
- The organization(s) that published and/or sponsored the information source should be identified.
- The most credible information sources are those that have been published in order to present balanced, unbiased coverage of a topic or at least to present both sides of an issue.
- The least credible sources are those that have been published in order to promote a certain point of view.
- Check the publication for information about the organization(s) that published/sponsored the information source. This can usually be found in the front or back of a printed book or journal, or in the "About Us" or "Mission" section of a web site. You may need to look a little further to determine whether or not the organization has a hidden agenda or bias.
Is the content of the information source relevant for your project or paper?
- It should cover the specific aspects of your topic.
- It should be up-to-date, if timeliness is critical for your topic. (Check the publication date or, for web sites, the date of the last update.)
- It should be well thought out, well presented, and well supported with credible sources.
- It should be unbiased. (A bias can be obvious or subtle. It can be hard to perceive a bias if you tend to agree with the arguments presented. If you are uncertain, check with an expert in the field, such as your professor.)
- Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask - Guide to evaluating web pages from the University of California at Berkeley
- American University Library Information Literacy Tutorial on Evaluating Information - Detailed explanations of what to look for when evaluating information sources
- Humboldt University Library's General Criteria for Evaluating Information for all kinds of sources and Evaluating Webpages: Trash and Treasure for information specific to web sites
If you have any questions, comments, or would like research help, please contact Meagan Lacy, Humanities Librarian.
Last updated by lacym on 01/12/2011