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FindJournal articles report the results of research by experts. Sometimes they're also called "peer-reviewed articles," "scholarly articles," or "academic articles." They are often used in academic research.

You should use journal articles because they:

  • Contain evidence based on research
  • Are written by experts
  • Focus on a narrow topic
  • Provide detailed information
  • Are probably more accurate because of the peer-review process
  • Lend credibility to your paper

Find journal articles in these databases:

Books on a shelfSome books include research by experts, and you may want to use them in your research project.

You should use books because they:

  • Give a broad overview of one or more topics
  • Explain a complex topic (books are easier to understand than journal articles)
  • Offer in-depth analysis of a topic
  • Summarize previous research on a topic

Find books in these databases:

Graph on a paperStatistics can come from different sources, including the federal and state governments and non-profit organizations.

You should use statistics because they help:

  • Explain how widespread the problem is
  • Explain how severe the problem is
  • Convince your readers that the problem needs to be solved

Find statistics in these databases:

Photographer takes self-portraitImages are the visual depictions of scholarly and creative works. Video represents a wide variety of streaming media sources including documentary films, concerts and recitals, lectures, demonstrations, experiments, animations, interviews, news stories, and feature films. 

You should use images because they:

  • Supplement written explanations
  • Illustrate artistic or scientific themes or techniques
  • Explain concepts visually and/or auditorily
  • Convey conditions
  • Provide visual accounts of events, demonstrations, or performances

Find images and video in these databases:

Create Your SciFinder Account

SciFinder is a research discovery tool that allows you to explore the Chemical Abstracts Services (CAS) databases. Chemical Abstracts is the best source of chemical patent information, indexing patents from 150 countries in all areas of chemical science. SciFinder also has a drawing tool to facilitate visualization of structures.

Search Effectively

Yellow, blue, and purple keysUnlike Google, library databases can't understand complete sentences. You'll need to break your topic down into the most important concepts, also called keywords, and use those keywords to search library databases.

Example topic: How does social media impact happiness among teenagers?

Keywords: social media, happiness, teenagers

Brainstorm synonyms:

Sometimes experts use different terms than we use in everyday conversation. It's important to think of synonyms and related terms for your keywords so that you can use different combinations of words to get the best results when searching.

Keyword: teenagers

Synonyms: adolescents, youth

Library databases often have built-in search tools. Try them out!

  • Peer-Reviewed: Limit your search to journal articles.
  • Discipline: Limit your search to a particular discipline (such as psychology or education).
  • Publication Date: Limit your search to sources published during certain years.
  • Subject Terms: These are like library hashtags. Limit your search to sources about that subject.

Quotation marksExperts often cite each other's work, and that can help you find more sources on your topic!

To find older relevant sources:

  • Find the list of sources at the end of a relevant source you've found. This may be called "bibliography," "works cited," or "references."
  • Look for titles in the list that relate to your topic.
  • Copy and paste relevant titles into a library database.

To find newer relevant sources:

  • When you find a relevant source in a database, look for a link called "Cited by."
  • Click this link to see more recent sources that may be related to your topic.