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 column.
3. Evaluating your results:
- 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 spelling.
- 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 discrimination
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 334-881-2266.