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How to Find an Article on your topic

State your Topic Clearly    |    Look up your Topic    |    Is the Complete Article Available?    |    Locate Full Text of Articles    |    Terms you Should Know



State Your Topic Clearly

Be sure you clearly understand what your instructor requires and be sure your research topic fulfills those requirements.

Avoid picking a topic which is very broad or which lacks a specific focus (e.g. culture)

Avoid picking a topic which is so narrow that you will find little or no information (e.g. use of ceremonial masks in fertility rites among the Ibibio of Nigeria)

Determine what type of information you need

Do you wish to limit your research to scholarly and/or peer reviewed journals? Some Journal Article Indexes allow this to be done by simply placing a check mark in a box. (See example below)

An example of an EBSCO search with a check mark in the peer reviewed journals box


Choose an Article Index (Database)

On the Library Home page at http://library.csudh.edu, click Click the "Articles & eResources" tab above the search box in the center of the page.

If you know which database you want to use, click the link marked "Databases by Title" to see a list of databases in alphabetical order.

If you do not know which database you want to use, click the link marked "Databases by Subject"to go to the list of databases separated into specific subject areas.




Look up your Topic

Searching by Keywords: Choose a few precise words or short phrases that best describe the information you want.

  • e.g. You are doing a research paper on the "Effect of anorexia on teenagers"
  • Keywords are: anorexia, teenagers

Enter keywords into search boxes

  • Do not type in a whole sentence or use words such as 'in', 'and', 'between', 'of', 'the', 'with', 'to', etc.
  • Use synonyms if needed to express variations of keywords (e.g. teenagers, adolescents -- see example in box below)
  • Combine keywords in search boxes using AND or OR (many journal article indexes contain dropdown boxes allowing you to do this easily)
TermWhat it DoesExamples
ANDNarrows Search
(Search results must contain both terms)
anorexia AND teenagers
ORBroadens Search
(Search results must contain either term)
teenagers OR adolescents

Example Search:

An EBSCO search box showing a search for anorexia AND (teenagers OR adolescents)

Searching by Subject Headings

If a Journal Article Index has a thesaurus, subject guide, or list of headings/concepts you can use it to identify useful subject headings or descriptors to use as search terms.

If you found some good articles searching by keywords, look at these same articles more closely to see which descriptors were used to categorize them. Then do a new search using those descriptors as search terms.

Example Screen:

A screenshot of EBSCOhost databases showing the 'Subject Terms' button

For the best results, search using both Keywords and Subject Terms.




Is the Complete Article Available?

Not all articles in our databases are available in full text form. Some only have citations and abstracts.

Full Text Available: If the full text of an article is available it will have:

  • Text by the citation which reads "Full Text HTML" or "Full Text PDF".
  • A graphical image link showing the Adobe Acrobat logo or an HTML page logo.
  • Some articles are available full text, but in a different database. If that is the case with your article you will see a link that looks something like this:
A graphical button which reads 'Find it at CSUDH'

Full Text Not Available: Some citations will have neither a link to the full text nor the full text of an article.

  • To check for Full Text elsewhere, use the CSUDH Journals List which contains all print, microfilm, and online journals to which the Library subscribes. You can get to the Journal List from any page in the website by clicking the button marked "Journals We Have" in the top menu.
  • If CSUDH library does not subscribe to the Journal you need, you may request an Interlibrary Loan to get an article from another library. Articles can take anywhere from a week to a month to arrive at the CSUDH Library. Please make sure the Journal is not available in the library first.

If you can't find any articles on your topic, don't despair! Come to the reference desk on the second floor and ask a librarian to assist you with your search. You can also e-mail a librarian.

Terms you Should Know

  • Peer Reviewed/Scholarly Journal - Articles in this type of journal are reviewed and evaluated by experts prior to publication.
  • Thesaurus - A list of subject headings used to organize a collection of documents & articles for easy retrieval.
  • Journal Database/Index - An electronic or paper reference resource that lists articles from periodicals by subject, author, and title.
  • Citation - A brief description of an article including author, title and journal in which article is found along with volume, date & page on which article appears.
  • Abstract - A brief summary of the contents of an article.