Finding Scholarly Articles for your Research Papers

1) Start--Writing a Research Paper

Read the Assignment at least 3 times very carefully. With your instructor-- If you have any questions about the assignment, get them cleared up BEFORE you spend time doing the research. Are there certain kinds of information sources you can (and cannot) use: public webpages, popular magazines, academic journals, newspapers? See this periodicals chart to understand the differences.

Let the Reference librarians help you find the best places to look for information and develop an appropriate research strategy for your particular project. At the Reference Desk--2nd Floor North or 460-7025 or email or chat at:

Try this Assignment Calculator from the Univ. of Minnesota for help planning your time and executing the paper writing process.

Remember: Printing in the Library cost 10¢ a page and requires the use of a TRACcard purchased at the Circulation Desk.

All USA-subscribed databases can be found on our Homepage under Articles, Indexes, and Databases in the alphabetical list (scroll down the page). These databases are accessible to all USA students both on and off campus. Non-USA students may use them in the Library and print or email them to themselves. Note: Some of the most current articles may be "embargoed" (held back) by the publisher until they are 6 -12 old.

2) Articles on current controversial topics

CQ Researcher--Weekly magazine/journal online. Each issue addresses a current controversial issue.

Academic Search Premier [Under Ebsco] Many full-text. Use the asterisk * for truncation. Always try "Check for Full Text" if the items doesn't say full text. Use the database's own "print" button.

Expanded Academic ASAP [Under InfoTrac] Many full-text. Always use database's own "print" button. Use the asterisk * for truncation.

LexisNexis -- Full text of international newpaper articles. Good for the most current news about an event or topic. Not academic. Includes trade journals, TV news transcripts, statistical sources, information about businesses and industry, laws, law reviews and more. Use the exclamation point ! for truncation.

Opposing Viewpoints-- Book chapters from Gale pulications, articles, primary documents, statistics, and more on controversial topics.

Mobile Register --Local issues

3) Articles About Literary Topics

Litfinder : Find the full text of many poems, essays, short stories and plays.

Literature Resource Center [Under Gale/InfoTrac] Selected full-text, from both books and articles.

TIPS: Author is the default, but change to Advanced if you have a very focused topic like "flappers in 1920s literature." Be sure to select full text in the pull-down menu to get any reference to these words in the articles. Click on the "Literary Criticism. . ." tab. Always use database's own print or email button near the top left of the webpage. URL. Also instead of giving the Infotrac URL for the article, it is more effective to give the address through which a professor can gain access. The actual url of the article will not allow direct access to anyone without a login through our proxy server and therefore is useless.)

Project Muse Our newest database. Contains current full-text journal articles in several fields of study. If you get too many, change search coverage from "all fields with text" to "all fields except text."

JSTOR All full-text articles from online journals in many fields; all articles are PDF format and at least 3-5 years old, but many much older articles.

TIPS: Use the Advanced Search option; select "Articles" and "Language and Literature" as a category. If you are doing a broad topic like "Shakespeare's women" use the pulldown menus to just search for each word separately (shakespeare* and women) in the title or you may get hundreds of useless articles. Use "PDF economy" mode to print which you sent in "preferences." Always use database's own "print" button. JSTOR does NOT have an email function. Use "quote marks" for phrases and asterisk * for truncation.

Periodicals Archive Online Similar to JSTOR with some overlap of coverage; the newest articles seem to be from 1996. Worth trying, especially if you need to be comprehensive in your literature review.

MLA International Bibliography [Under Ebsco] The most important database for literary criticism (includes articles, books and chapters of books), but it is not the easiest to use. There are no abstracts or full-text contained within this database itself. It has some "linked" full-text articles, which will take you to the full-text articles in other databases. Always use database's own "print" button. Use the asterisk * for truncation.

Oxford Journals Online --particularly good for linguistics

Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature (1890 - 1982) no full-text, but back in the day! Use it for locating play reviews, book reviews and other "popular" criticism from earlier decades

4) Articles About Other Topics--Too many to name. Go immediately to the Reference Desk!

Social Sciences:

Sage Journals Online is a good choice for all social science topics: sociology, psychology, criminal justice, public administration, economics, anthropology, social work, even for things like the social aspects of nursing.
SocINDEX with Full Text -- (EBSCO) topics having to do with societal issues, e.g. social security, sexual abuse, military families. These topics may be considered sociologically. Asterisk* for truncation.

Medical and Tech topics. start with Science Direct and the EBSCO health databases NB: help is available for the biomedical databases in the Baugh Biomedical Library.)

History: start with Project Muse and JSTOR


Education Research Complete (EBSCO) Over 1500 professional and scholarly journals.
Professional Development Collection (EBSCO)over 240 full-text journals on educational topics.
ERIC (EBSCO) Journal articles and unpublished documents--education research and teaching
Professional Collection Online:(Gale) includes over 300 fulltext journals for educators

5) Need a Particular Journal or Magazine?

Use "Works Cited" from books and articles you find to gather more sources for your papers. If you see that certain articles are frequently cited in the books and articles that you are reading, find them--they may be the among the most important for your research. Here's how:

Our Journal List --USA subscribed, full-text, electronic journal and print holdings. Don't use the alphabet selection. Type in the title of the magazine, journal or newspaper you need. Those databases which have your journal in full-text will be retrieved. If none are returned, click on SOUTHcat catalog to see if we have them as a print subscription and where the volume you need is located. If nothing shows up, consider making an interlibrary loan request.

InterLibrary Loan -- Students, faculty and staff may use this to order books or articles from other libraries that we don't have, but that they find essential for their research. Free if available in Alabama, but you must allow at least 7 days and sometimes 2 weeks. Be aware that most ILLs are free to you, but incur expense for the Library, so use it wisely. Register as a first time user supplying your information and creating a login and password. When you need an item, go in again using your (remembered) login and password and fill in the information about the item you need. Our librarians will find out who has the item and ask them to send it to us. You pick it up at the Reference desk, though sometime we can email a link to the article to you.

If you are not affiliated with the University, ask the Mobile Public Library. They do interlibrary loans for card holders.

6) Smart "Public" Internet Searching

a. Try Google's version of a scholarly search: Google Scholar. Excellent for finding out who's citing whom; but most items are not full text for free. No Truncation

Important: Before you begin searching, click on Preferences and type in University of South Alabama in the search box. Check the box in front of USA eText. Now when you search Google Scholar, those items that have USA eText near the title are articles that you can get full text through our library's subscription.

b. Try Google Book. Scanned copies of books from several libraries. Full view and downloads of those out of copyright (therefore very old usually); a few pages or snippets from those still under copyright law.

c. Use well-regarded and recommended Internet sites

DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals. Free academic journals on the public Internet.

LII-Librarians' Internet Index

d. Use an "advanced" search engine like Google Advanced Search and limit to "more trustworthy" domains. e.g. gov, edu, org

e. Evaluate what you find through a search engine like Google or Yahoo extremely carefully--they are in the business of advertising, not education. Criteria for Evaluating webpages

7) How do you cite from online databases:

EBSCO Databases: When you find an article you want to use, click on "save", then set the citation style as MLA or APA or whatever you are required to use. When you click "save' again EBSCO will create a fairly decent bibliographic entry. Check it carefully--it is not foolproof. Watch for capitals in the title! Fill in "University of South Alabama Library, Mobile, AL" and the date and <a short url to ebscohost>.

Bedford St. Martins: Research and Documentation Online by Diana Hacker

Landmark's Citation Machine, EasyBib, NoodleBib Express, KnightCite-- free services, so you'd better check the citations very, very carefully. They are useful in getting you started with standard styles and formats. You are ultimately responsible for creating the correct citations.

8) Plagiarism--The Number One academic crime!

plagiarism for students


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