Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


This guide provides quick and easy access to library resources for Rhetoric assignments as well as guidance on getting research and writing help.

Why Use Articles?

Articles are a valuable resource in any research paper or project. Most articles are secondary sources. To learn more about primary and secondary sources, see the "Find Primary Sources" tab of this guide. Articles (as opposed to books) generally have the following characteristics:

  • Shorter length
  • Information is more current
  • Focus on a specific aspect of a topic 

Where to Find Articles

1. The Find Articles Guide provides a list of databases to search, organized by subject. This page contains the following resources:

  • Starting Points - Multi-subject databases that contain information on many subjects. These databases can be the best places to start your research.
  • Newspapers - A selection of major newspapers and newspaper collections.
  • Subject Databases - Listed alphabetically by subject area, these databases include subject-specific resources. These are great for finding articles with a specific focus.

2. Get Started with a Multi-Subject Database

Academic Search Ultimate is a good starting point for most topics. To search this database:

  1. Access Academic Search Ultimate. If you are off-campus, you will be asked to enter your NetID and password.
  2. Enter keywords from your Dissect Your Research Question handout in the search boxes on the page.
  3. Click Search.

3. Focus Your Research with a Subject-Specific Database

Use the Find Articles Guide to find databases to search by subject. 

  1. Use your Dissect Your Research Question handout to determine which subject areas would be most likely to have scholars publishing articles on your topic.
  2. Select one or more subject-specific databases to search. If you are off-campus, you will be asked to enter your NetID and password.
  3. Enter keywords from your Dissect Your Research Question handout in the search boxes and click Search.

Handout: Is My Source Scholarly?

How to Use Academic Search Ultimate: VIDEOS

Tips for Refining Your Search

  1. Look closely at the first two pages of your results.
  2. Click on the article title to find more information about an article.
  3. When you find a good article:
    • Read the Abstract to learn what the article is about.
    • Look closely at the Subject Terms. Add these to your Dissect Your Research Question handout and use them in a new search as needed.
  4. To  improve your search:
    • If you have too few results, use fewer keywords, or try an alternative keyword from your Dissect Your Research Question handout.
    • If you have too many results, add another keyword, or try an alternative from your Dissect Your Research Question handout.

How to Use Boolean

The dropdown options next to database search boxes do the following:

  • OR - Finds articles that include EITHER keyword (more results)
  • AND - Searches for articles that include BOTH keywords (less, though more specific results)
  • NOT - ELIMINATES articles that include specified keyword


Open Articles from Off-Campus

When you are off-campus you will be prompted to log-in with your Net ID and password before you can begin searching.

You may save and send permanent links to specific articles you locate in your database searches. They are often called Permalinks or Persistent Links.  If you do e-mail these to yourself you will need to add a Proxy Prefix to the permanent link provided by the database.

Add the following to the beginning of the permanent link URL: 

For additional information, see the Database Linking page.