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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Improve Your Research Strategies: 4. Finding Articles

Learn to think like a librarian! This guide is an introduction (or a refresher) to using the library to find books and journal articles.

Finding Articles

The University of Illinois Library is very large, and we subscribe to hundreds of different article databases that you can use in your research. Sometimes, this can be a little overwhelming. Below are several strategies you can use for finding databases to search for articles in your discipline.

  1. Use the Easy Search box at the Library Homepage.
  2. Visit your departmental library's homepage and use their recommended databases.
  3. Use the Online Journals and Databases tool to search for a specific database or electronic journal.
  4. View a list of databases by subject.

Easy Search

1. On the Library homepage, enter your search into the Easy Search box. In this example we'll search for "gun control." 

"gun control" in Easy Search box

 

2. Sometimes the Suggestions box at the top of the results page will link to a Library Guide that includes the terms you searched for. Library guides list useful resources and ways to search.

3. The left side of the results page lists articles found in EBSCO databases. Below that are articles found through Scopus. In the middle column, under Library Catalog, are books and other materials owned by the Library. On the right side are subject suggestions, as well as contact information for the library that specializes in the subject you searched for.

4. On the Library homepage, you can switch which sources Easy Search searches using the tabs at the top of the search bar. You can also use the advanced search to choose which resources to search.

Easy Search by format

Departmental Libraries

The University of Illinois library system has about 25 departmental libraries that serve different academic units and hold unique collections. Each library has its own web page that serves as an access point for recommended resources for a given discipline.

To find a departmental library that serves your department or major, you can view a list of libraries by college and major or take a look at an alphabetical list of all libraries on campus.

For example, the Social Sciences, Health and Education Library has links to recommended resources and databases for the disciplines and majors that it serves. Every departmental library has similar recommendations listed on its homepage.

 SSHEL homepage's databases

 

Online Journals and Databases

As the name suggests, Online Journals and Databases is a comprehensive list of the electronic journals and databases available through the library. Some tips on using this tool are available here.

What's the difference between an online journal and a database? A journal is one particular title, like Nature, The Annual Review of Sociology, or Aquacultural Engineering. A database collects citations to articles from many different journals, usually organized by subject. For example, America: History and Life covers American history and ABI/Inform covers business and economics. 

You can either search the Online Journals and Databases for the name of a journal or database, or browse journals by subject.

The search screen for Online Journals and Databases looks like this:

Online Journals & Databases search page

 

The results screen for Online Journals and Databases looks like this:

 

Once you have accessed the journal, you will be able to browse the contents, by year and volume/issue number.

Hands on Activity

  1. Locate the departmental libraries that serves your college major, and write down three databases that they recommend.
  2. Using the Online Journals and Databases tool, locate the journal called American Fern Journal. What years do we have access to this journal? What company/companies proves full-text access? (hint: look for where it says "Full text available via...".

Databases by Subject

The Library's A-Z Databases list has every database the library owns. If you choose a subject from the dropdown menu it will show you the most relevant databases in your area, as well as "Best Bets," or suggested databases to start with.