Finding an article about your research topic
Use an Alabama Virtual Library Database or Library Database
to help you find an article about your research topic; these databases are
designed to help you find articles quickly and easily.
1. Where to start:
From the Library’s Resource Page, click on the name of a database.
2. Doing a database search:
• Think of some
keywords (important words describing your topic)
• Type your best
keyword(s) into the search box.
To search an exact phrase, put quotation marks around
the words in the phrase. For example “death penalty”.
• If you need to
combine more than one topic in your search, link your keywords with and
• For example: “death penalty” and racism; drinking and “college
students” and grades; athletes and steroids
Do you need articles from scholarly or peer-reviewed
journals only? Then mark this option in the column on the left side of the
search page. You can adjust the currency
of the information by moving the arrow on the Publication Date Bar to the right
and clicking update. Under Source Types, you can limit by type of publication
Academic Journals, magazines, or newspapers and click update. Each time you
make a selection, notice the change in the number of results at the top of the
3. Evaluating your
• Be choosy. An
article can contain all your keywords but still not be useful!
• Look closely at
the title of the article for clues to what it is about. You can view the
abstract (a short summary) by clicking on the title.
If you get no results or too few results:
• Check your
• Don’t type long
phrases or questions. Use only the most important words.
• Try different
keywords for your search. Think of related terms or synonyms.
For example, if your search was: "death penalty" and racism
Try one of these instead: "capital punishment" and racism; "death penalty" and
4. Getting a copy of the actual article:
Library databases often include PDF full text or HTML full
text. Click on the full text link of
your choice to open the article. If you select PDF full text, you must have
Adobe Acrobat Reader on your machine to view the article.
Using the library's databases at home! Start at the
library’s home page, click on the database you want (AVL or ProQuest), then
log-in following the instructions on the screen to create your login and
password. NOTE: If you are an Alabama resident you should no longer need an AVL
card to access the AVL databases from home. If you have problems, please call
the library for assistance.
If you have any questions, please ask for assistance or call