How do I find articles for my papers?


I am writing a paper and my Instructor wants me to quote from scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles. Where do I start?

WWU Library subscribes to online databases that either refer to or provide full text to articles in newspapers, magazines and scholarly journals.

Below, you will learn how to use these resources to find articles for your papers.



Selecting the best database

The online article databases allow you to search for journal, magazine, and newspaper articles by topic either on campus or off. If you are using the databases from off campus (US/Canada) you will be asked to authenticate using your WWU network login.  If you are travelling outside of these countries and need access, please contact the library's systems manager for more information.

Databases are listed alphabetically by title.  So if you know the name of the database, this is an easy way to access it. 

Additionally, at the top of the alphabetical list, you will also find subject categories that can help you to determine which database is best for your topic.  

For example, by clicking on the Arts and Humanities subject category, you will find subcategories such as Art, History, Literature/Language and Music, to name a few. Each of these subcategories provide links to the most useful databases.

If you are just starting to use library databases or if you are uncertain about which database to use, try one of the large general databases:

Academic Search Premier -- This database provides full text article access to 1,000 journals and article summaries for 3,000 titles in business, humanities, general sciences, social science, health, trade, vocation and more.

ProQuest -- You can access summaries of articles from 8,000 journals with full text to many of these.  Covers a variety of topics.

Newsbank Newsfile Collection -- You can access more than 1,000 regional, national and international newspapers.  They provide full text coverage of a variety of topics including scientific, health, economic, social, historic and global issues.




Limit Your Search

You may want to set up a few parameters for your search. Look over the main search screen in the database. In most cases, you will find the following choices that you can select:


  • Full Text - This will limit any search results to items that have the complete text of the article.
  • Scholarly or Peer-Reviewed - These options will eliminate newspaper and general magazine articles and will only give you articles published in scholarly journals.
  • Dates Published (Before/After) - You can usually enter a 'published before' and 'published after' date. This helps you if you are looking for only recent articles.


Keyword Searching

You can search databases by keyword, author or title. But you will most often use keyword searching (words or phrases related to your topic).

  • Before starting your search, write down any related word, phrases or synonyms that come to mind.
  • Use short one-or-two word phrases in your search.
  • Break a long search term into smaller parts by adding the word AND (usually in all CAPITALS).
    • Bad search strategy: classroom discipline of elementary aged children;
    • Better search strategy: classroom discipline AND children AND elementary
  • If your search doesn't give any results, try combining synonyms with the word OR.
    • Okay search strategy: death penalty;
    • Better search strategy: death penalty OR capital punishment.


Subject Searching

Once you have done a keyword search, look over your results. Find an article that looks promising and click on the title. Subject headings are listed as live links. You can click on one that looks helpful to find other similar articles.


Getting to the Article

You have set up the options for what will appear in your results list, you've typed in your search, and now you have a list of results.

  • Click on a title in the result list. This will give you the citation (title, author, etc.) and sometimes a short abstract (description of the article).
  • If there is full text available, you will see links to HTML, PDF, or Linked Full Text. Click on any of these links and it will take you to the full article.


Saving the Article

To save an article:

  • Choose "add" or check the box next to the record. This adds it to 'My Folder'. (Note: When you close down the database, all information stored in the folder will be deleted.)
  • Click on 'My Folder' (usually an icon appearing somewhere at the top of the database screen) to see the results you have specifically selected.
  • From 'My Folder', you can email or print out the articles.


No Full Text?

What happens if the database doesn't provide full text? Go to the library's Journals A to Z list to see if the library has a subscription to that journal. Need help using Periodicals A to Z? Go to How do I find our subscription to a specific journal?


Page maintained by Sid Nash
Last update on March 2, 2011