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How to Find Scholarly Articles  

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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How to Find Scholarly Articles

How do you find scholarly articles? Good question! Just go to Google and type in: "scholarly articles about"…no wait. Please don’t do that. Okay, you can do that, but did you know that only a small percentage of websites are findable with Google? Lucky for you, as a student of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, you can access databases full of scholarly articles through the Morris Library website. Some scholarly articles are available for free on the Internet and you might be able to find them with Google, but many more articles are only available in subscription databases through the library.

Off-campus, whether you're in an apartment in Carbondale or a yurt in Paraguay, you'll be asked to log in to access our databases. No problem! Just use your DAWG tag number and password, the same ones you use for SalukiNet and SIU Online.

Remember, scholarly articles have undergone a procedure called peer review and are usually written by professors and researchers associated with a college or university. It's also important to remember that scholarly articles are almost always published in scholarly, sometimes called academic, journals. A scholarly journal is published regularly (once a month, four times a year, etc.) and it covers a very specific area of knowledge, like carnivorous tortoises of Southern Africa.

The word "published" is a little misleading since almost all of Morris Library's scholarly journals are available online through the library website--in fact 98% of the journals and magazines to which Morris subscribes are electronic only. Many scholarly journals don't even print paper copies anymore. Until we come up with a better word for it, we're going to say that scholarly journals are "published" even if they are only available online or through a database.

Okay enough background. Let's talk about how to actually find scholarly articles. The first step is to head over to the Morris Library website. There are a bunch of ways to get to the list of all the databases we have at Morris from the website, but the easiest is to click on the OneSearch (Articles, Databases, Books, DVDs, and More) maroon tab right in the middle of the page. Below the search box that pops up, click on the second or third option down: Databases by Subject or Databases by Title.

Choose Databases by Title if you already know the name of the database you want to search. Say your professor told you to search in Academic Search Complete for a scholarly article about dolphins. Choose Databases by Subject if you're not sure where to start, but you know you need to find scholarly articles in a certain discipline like psychology.

Searching a library database is a little different than searching Google. You can't type in your whole research topic or question and get useful results. You have to pull out the keywords or phrases (remember those from week 5?) from your topic and use them to search.

Sometimes even after you figure out good keywords and phrases you'll still get thousands of search results. Morris Library's databases are great because they offer lots of ways to narrow your search results. This feature can help you whittle down your list of results to articles that are relevant to your research topic, and it also gives you options such as limiting your list to only peer-reviewed articles.

Finally, it's really important to understand how to get to the actual scholarly article. The list of results you see after a search provides what are called citations for the articles. Citations provide information about the article, but not the full text of the article. Many citations contain an abstract, a fancy, academic word for summary, for the article, but this is not the whole article.

Some citations will include a link to the full text of the article. See the screenshots below for the different types of links you'll encounter. Easy peasy. All you have to do is click on the link and it will pull up the article.

Other article citations will have a maroon Find Full Text instead of one of the options above.

When you click it you'll be taken to the Find Full Text @ Morris screen, but not the full text of the article yet. You have to click once more on the Go button next to Get Full Text From... to get to the actual article. This step tends to trip people up, so if you need any help with it don't hesitate to Ask a Librarian. Notice in the screenshot below that you have 3 options to get the full text. Any time you see this click on any Go button and you'll get to the same place: the full text of the article.

Occasionally, you'll encounter a citation for an article that we don't have full text access to. In this case, first check if we have it in print. You'll have an option for this on the Find Full Text @ Morris screen.

If we don't have the article online or in print you can request the article through Interlibrary Loan. Again, if you need a hand with this, the friendly librarians at Ask a Librarian are happy to help.

Of course, Google Scholar is great and you can search it a lot like Google. The advantage of Google Scholar over Google is that it searches primarily for scholarly materials (not necessarily peer-reviewed though) instead of across the whole web. If you do use Google Scholar, make sure you access it through Morris Library's website. That way it links into Morris's databases and you'll be able to get access to full-text articles that aren't freely available through Google Scholar.

There you have it! A (sort of) brief overview of how to find scholarly articles in Morris Library's databases. It takes a little bit of extra time at the beginning to learn how to use library databases, but it's worth it because you can find thousands of high-quality, peer-reviewed articles to use in research paper and projects to impress your professors and great good grades.

Contact Morris

Morris Library
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901
Information Desk: (618) 453-2818
Administrative Office: (618) 453-2522
Circulation Desk: (618) 453-1455

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