Skip to main content

RELS-255: Research Methods

Finding Articles

 

Earlier, we indicated that we use QCAT, Library catalogue, to find books by author, title and topic keywords. In addition, we considered how Summon can be used to locate books. In this module, we turn to finding articles - specifically scholarly journal articles.

In this module we will address: 

  • the characteristics of different types of articles (scholarly, popular and newspaper)
  • how to locate a specific article when you have a citation, and
  • how to find articles on a topic using ATLA

finding articles

 

Articles are one of the best sources of information on any given topic. They can contain news, detailed analysis, or the results of a scientific study. Issued "periodically" in daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or irregular intervals, articles are found in a variety of publications including journals, magazines and newspapers. These publications can be in print and/or online. The second floor of Stauffer library contains the print journals (both current and bound volumes) to which the library subscribes. Current paper newspapers can be found by the Writing Centre on the main floor of the library.  The library subscribes to many more online journals, magazines and newspapers.

articles

Articles in scholarly journals are a critical source of authoritative information, as they contain the results of original academic research or experimentation. Scholarly journals are also referred to as "academic," "peer-reviewed," or "refereed" journals. Using scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles is frequently a requirement in many course assignments.

 

Criteria

Newspapers

Popular Magazines
(popular, general interest, news)

Scholarly Journals

Purpose/Intent

To provide information on current events.
Local and regional focus.

To inform or entertain readers on general interest topics in broad subject fields.

Report on original research or experimentation.

Author(s)

Journalists on staff or freelance writers.

Staff or freelance writers.

Scholar/expert within an academic field or discipline.

Editing

Newspaper editor reviews submitted articles.

Magazine editor reviews submitted articles.

Experts in the field review articles submitted for publication. Publications that undertake this editorial process are also known as peer-reviewed or refereed publications.

Intended Audience

General public.

General public.

Professors, researchers, college and university students.

Language

Simple, non-technical, easy to understand.

Some simple, others more demanding but still easy to understand and  non-technical.

Specialized vocabulary of the discipline.

Appearance

Black and white, some colour, containing many photographs and illustrations.

Slick, glossy, contain photographs and illustrations.

Shorter articles.

Serious look. Plain, black and white, containing charts, graphs, and tables.

Lengthy articles and academic level book reviews.

 

Advertising

Contain extensive advertising.

Contain extensive advertising.

Selective advertising. Few ads, usually for publications or services in the discipline.

Publisher

Commercial publishers.

Frequency varies but usually daily.

Commercial publishers.

Usually published weekly or monthly.

Universities
Scholarly presses
Academic/research organizations.

Published monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

References

Usually do not cite. Sources sometimes quoted in article text.

Usually do not cite. Sources sometimes quoted in article text.

Extensive documentation.
Bibliographies or references included.

Examples

New York Times
The Guardian
Globe and Mail
Ottawa Citizen
 

Harper’s
Maclean’s
Newsweek
Time

Canadian Journal of Development Studies
Progress in Development Studies

 

When you are looking for a specific journal article

In the course of your research you will undoubtedly come across articles you want to locate through the reference lists in the course textbook, encyclopedias and other readings you may have done. A reference to an article has two titles: title of the article and title of the periodical (journal, magazine or newspaper) in which the article is published.

James, Susan. 2006. "Lost in the Fray: State HIV/AIDS Policies in South Africa and their Impact on Women." Canadian Journal of Development Studies 27 (2): 195-210.

When you have a citation to an article you want to locate there are a variety of options for locating it.

  1. You can search Summon by placing quotation marks around the title of the article and adding in the author's name and title of the periodical if necessary.  Summon doesn't include everything, so if you don't find the article in Summon try steps 2 or 3 below.
  2. You can search QCAT for the title of the journal/magazine/newspaper in which the article appears (but not for the title or author of the article) by performing a Journal Title search.

QCAT search Journals

You can also use the Journals A-Z tab on the library homepage to determine whether or not Queen's library has a subscription to the journal you are looking for:

From the Library Homepage, select the Journals A-Z tab, enter the name of the journal in the journal title box and click Search. Keeping the default set to "online and print" will maximize your chances of finding the journal subscription.

QCAT Search Journals

Tips for Finding Journals at Queen's Library

  • Journals can be found on microfilm, paper or online in full text.
  • If the journal is available in print, note the holdings (the dates the Library owns) and the call number. At Stauffer Library, journals (both current and bound) are located on the 2nd floor.
  • If the Library has a subscription to an online edition, note the dates of coverage. In many cases, there is more than one database that contains the full text of the journal, but seldom is there overlap with the date of coverage.
  • To access the online edition, click on the link.
  • Note: Connecting to any electronic resource (such as electronic journals or databases) from off-campus requires signing in through the Queen's web proxy service.  You will be prompted to login prior to being able to access the journal.

Often when you are doing research you don't have an article or book title in mind, rather, you have a topic. The best resources to use for locating articles on a topic are the Library's indexes and article databases.

An index is a list of citations to material (such as journal articles, book chapters, conference papers and other key information sources in your research) arranged by subject, author or title. It can be in print or electronic format.
A database is an organized collection of electronic records presented in a standardized format, searchable in a variety of ways, such as by title, author, subject, and keyword. Examples include the Queen's Library catalogue and the various citation, abstract and full text databases to which Queen's Library subscribes.

 

As these research tools have a common purpose (to allow you to locate articles) the two terms are often used interchangeably.

The Library subscribes to hundreds of online article indexes and databases (over 650 databases at last count) on a wide range of subjects. The content varies from database to database - many contain full text articles, others contain videos, images and music. For most databases, publisher licensing agreements with Queen's University restrict access to members of the Queen's community. That is why off-campus access to most Library databases and electronic journals is restricted to Queen's students, faculty and staff. To access these resources from off-campus, log in to the desired electronic resource by entering your Queen's NetID and password when prompted. More information about the Queen's "Connect from Off-Campus Service" is available at https://login.proxy.queensu.ca/login.

ATLA

The ATLA Religion Database® (ATLA RDB®) is the premier index to journal articles, book reviews, and collections of essays in all fields of religion, with coverage from 1949 and retrospective indexing for some journal issues as far back as the nineteenth century. Journals are selected for inclusion according to their scholarly merit and scope.

A handy suite of brief tutorials demonstrate how to use ATLA database search features and search content.Tutorials include:

Searching Scripture Citations Using the Scriptures Tool

Searching Scripture Citations Using the Scripture Citation Index; and

Searching Subject Headings for Sacred Texts of World Religions 

For these and more, visit ATLA's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ATLAone

Another important point about subscription Library databases is that they contain content/information (citations or full text articles, for example) that is not freely available through other search tools such as web search engines like Bing, Google and Yahoo. Subscription databases also provide a variety of search options including the ability to limit to scholarly journal content and full text. Frequently discipline specific databases also provide a thesaurus, which enables the searcher to locate citations based on a controlled vocabulary (which is much more specific than a keyword search). As such, these types of library subscription databases are your primary gateway to the scholarly literature in your field.

From the Library Homepage there are several ways to find an article index or database that covers the literature of your discipline.  The Library Research LibGuide for Religious Studies provides a list of recommended article databases. When you know what type of information you are looking for (articles, books, websites, etc.) the Research Guide is an excellent starting point. 

Multidisciplinary databases cover a range of subject areas.  If your topic does not fall neatly into one subject area, or if you would like different perspectives on your topic, these general databases can be a good place to start your research. The library has produced a subject guide to Multidisciplinary Databases in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The fastest way to access a database when you know the title of it is to click on the Databases link on the library homepage directly below the blue Search button. Two useful multidisciplinary databases that are contained in this tab are:

  • Academic Search Complete
  • Google Scholar

 

Selecting the "Databases" link as illustrated above will take you to the Databases search interface. Browse by subject, title, or search by keyword to find the databases accessible through the library.

Academic Search Complete

As mentioned earlier, if you know the name of the database you wish to search, you can enter it from the Databases link.

Academic Search Complete is a multi-disciplinary index (with abstracts) to more than 10,900 publications including peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, monographs and reports. Approximately 50% of the journal titles also contain the full-text of articles. If the full text of the article is not available in the database itself, click the "Get it at Queen's" icon to search for the article's availability through Queen's Library subscriptions.

Although it is on a different platform from CBCA, the search principles remain the same. Related topic words are entered in each search box, separated by default with the Boolean operator AND. Using the dropdown arrows, you can switch the default AND to OR or NOT. AND is usually the preferred setting:

 

[Academic Search Complete interface]

 

The Finding Books module included a section on searching Summon to locate useful books on your subject, however Summon can also be very useful for finding articles on your topic. Use the facets, particularly the option to “limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review” to refine your search results.

More information about Summon.

[Google Scholar] While the indexes and databases provided to you by the Library are the best resources to use for finding scholarly journal articles, Google Scholar can be a useful search tool to supplement your research.

About Google Scholar

Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com) is Google's scholarly search engine.  Google Scholar searches for scholarly materials including journal articles, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from a variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web.

Points to Consider

Coverage appears to be strongest in science and technology, and weakest in the humanities. There isn't a way to focus your search on global development materials (unlike when you search one of the library's specialized article databases), and Google Scholar only includes articles that are indexed within its database, which is a much smaller subset of scholarly articles than found in some of the databases subscribed to by Queen’s Library. In some cases the content is freely available in full text, while in other instances abstracts with links to pay-for document delivery services are displayed.

Scholar Preferences

[Scholar Preferences] Click on the Settings "gear" located in the upper right hand corner of the Google Scholar search page to view Scholar Preferences (several preferences you can set and save). When searching Google Scholar from on-campus, the Library Links preference will already be set to allow for the Get it at Queen's service (recall that this service links citations in research databases to full-text articles or to the Library Catalogue or to other related web services provided by Queen's University Library).

 

IMPORTANT: To have these features activated when searching Google Scholar from off-campus, access Google Scholar through the Database tab on the library homepage and enter your NetID and password when prompted.