Finding Articles From Scholarly Journals in Online Databases

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Finding scholarly journals online is easy with access to specialized databases that contain academic journals. This portion of the Invisible Web provides a way to search for research material without heading to the library to use physical copies of academic journals.

What are scholarly journal articles from online databases of academic journals

Scholarly journal articles found in online databases are exactly the same as those found in the print versions of the same academic journals. These journals contain articles with content that is written by professionals in whatever field you are researching. These professionals include researchers, professors and other experts in the field. In addition, scholarly journals are published by a group, a professional society or a professional association that represents an official authority on the given subject.

Scholarly journal articles within databases of academic journals vs. other online sources

The internet offers a vast number of potential sources for information. Not all information is equally valid, useful or accurate, however. When searching for academic journals, make sure you are not searching all periodicals. Periodicals cover a wide spectrum of online sources, including regular magazines, professional magazines, trade magazines and journals; a periodical is anything that is published on a regular and continuing basis. Depending on your topic, you might want to forego the use of more general magazines, and stick with professional ones or scholarly journals.

Why you want to use scholarly journals from databases of academic journals

Because the authors and researchers who write the articles within an online database of academic journals are up-to-date with their knowledge, the content of the scholarly journal articles often focuses on the most relevant and current areas within any field. This includes cutting-edge research, hot topics of debate, emerging and existing trends, new ideas and areas for further study. In addition, because the organizations that publish the academic journals are esteemed and of high status, the academic journals and articles offer you the most valid, top-notch resources available.

On top of coming from a highly reputable source, articles in academic journals go through a rigorous peer-review process. In other words, the articles are juried or refereed. A group of experts, who have not participated in any research pertaining to the article and have not written any of the material themselves, review scholarly journal articles before they are published. These respected individuals’ review guarantees that any article pushed in such a journal adheres to the highest possible standards when it comes to credibility, accuracy and validity. The only exceptions to these peer-reviewed articles in academic journals are opinions, editorials and columns, so make sure the article you are using for research is peer-reviewed and not something option based.

Another benefit of using online databases to locate articles from academic journals is that you can access a larger scope when it comes to the period of time and number of different journals. Most libraries do not have the room to house every academic journal out there, nor do libraries always keep scholarly journals back past a certain year of publication. Online databases, however, often offer you access to journals all the way back to the first year of publication. In addition, more obscure or less popular journals not available in your local or school library can be found in some online databases.

How to navigate and find scholarly journal articles in online databases

If you are a college student, finding scholarly journal articles from online databases is usually as easy as starting at your school library’s homepage. This option actually gives you more options than if you were searching on your own because many online databases only offer paid access to institutions. On the library site, look for a link to online databases or periodicals. From there, you can access a variety of different online databases.

If you are not using a library website, you can start by searching both the visible and Invisible Web for specialized databases, search engines and directories that allow you to search full-text articles within online databases of academic journals. Once you have reached the search page of an online database, conduct your search using the following guidelines.

  • Look for a check box for “peer-reviewed,” “juried” or “refereed” articles to ensure you only get quality results.
  • Start with a single search term, and evaluate the results before adjusting your search terms.
  • Adjust your search term(s) as necessary to narrow down the result set to focus on the information you seek.
  • Narrow your search by any additional information you have. For example, if you know a researcher’s name, include that in the author field.

Another great place to start is [URL]Google Scholar[], which allows you to only search for academic journal articles. Your access to full-text versions of articles is limited in some cases, so keep that in mind before using this Google tool.

Tips for searching online databases containing scholarly journals

While you are likely to develop your own search strategy once you are familiar with how online databases work and the types of scholarly articles that come up with particular searches, keeping the tips below in mind is helpful.

Tip #1: Keep in mind that your topic may not be covered in entire articles. Sometimes, the topic may only be covered in part of an article.

Tip #2: If your search returns an excessively high number of articles, narrow your search by providing additional keywords and search parameters that are more specific. For example, if you are researching stem cell research and Alzheimer’s and searching for Alzheimer’s produces 3000 results, try adding stem cell research to your search parameters.

Tip #3: If your search returns too few results, try using synonyms and more general terms. For example, if you search for the specific name of a social media company while researching social media and communication and do not get many results, try searching instead for social media or social media’s effect on communication.

Tip #4: When you find a helpful article, pull search phrases from the subject headings under which the article is categorized.

Tip #5: Use the help feature when it is available to engage in more advanced searches and to use “and” and “or” operators.

Tip #6: Unless you are searching for historical information, stick with more current research by including publication dates in your search parameters.

Following these tips can reduce your research time and improve the relevancy of the scholarly articles that show up in search results.