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1. Choose the type of information you need.

Think about what kind of information you need on your topic, who would write about it, and where those articles would be published. Newspapers and popular magazines are good sources for current events and controversies. Look in scholarly journals articles reporting research results or reviewing existing research findings.

Example: You are writing a paper about female college students with eating disorders. You need to include information about what researchers have found to be the best treatment options, and you also want to include information on how women deal with having eating disorders.

    Tip! Watch a video walking you through the process step-by-step.

What you need: Who would write it: Where it would be published:
A review of research findings on treatments of college women with eating disorders Psychologists, health/medical researchers Scholarly journals on psychology or health
Personal stories from women who have suffered form eating disorders Journalists Popular women's magazines or news magazines
Confused about the differences between journals, magazines and other sources? See Popular vs. Scholarly.

2. Choose a database.

Databases are collections of articles organized by subject. Some cover a broad range of subjects and others focus on articles from a specific discipline, such as psychology, engineering or English literature.
 
Type of Database About Start here
Multi-disciplinary
  • Include popular and scholarly articles on all topics
  • Useful if scholars from multiple disciplines would write about your topic or if you don't know where to start

Academic Search Complete

 

Subject-specific
  • Include scholarly and specialized articles from a specific discipline
  • To choose one, think about what department on campus would have scholars researching your topic and pick that department from the Databases by Subject list

Choose a discipline at Databases by Subject

(ex: PsycINFO for psychology articles)

3. Search the database.

Write down your topic, and underline the main concepts. Choose keywords (search terms) which represent the main concepts of your topic. For each concept, choose a number of keywords, including synonyms and related terms. Use this tool to help brainstorm keywords: 
Topic Female college students with eating disorders
Key Concepts Female college students Eating disorders
Related Keywords

College women
Young adults
Students

Bulimia
Anorexia

 
Then combine them using AND and OR
  • AND narrows your search by looking for articles with all of the words
  • OR broadens your search by looking for articles with any of the words
  • So, using the keywords above, you could search female college students OR college women AND eating disorders

4. Find the complete article. 

All databases will list citations (information about an article such as the title, author, publication title, volume, issue, date and page numbers)which you can use to find the entire article. Some will also provide abstracts (brief summaries) of articles, while others will contain the full text of the article. If the full text is not in your database, you can look elsewhere:   

 

 

'Video' by Anas Ramadan,and'Magnifying Glass', both from The Noun Project collection

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