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Online Library Orientation: 4. How To Find Articles

An online introduction to the library's resources for BSC students.

The Basics of Searching Library Databases

Library databases are searchable collections of thousands of articles. These articles are from peer-reviewed journals, newspapers, magazines, and trade publications. Some databases (like ProQuest and Gale's OneFile) are general databases that cover many different subjects. Other databases (like CINAHL and IBISWorld) are very subject-specific. 


For a full list of the BSC Library's databases visit

Find recommended databases by subject    



Why shouldn't you rely only on Google or Google Scholar to find articles? 

1) Not everything online is free! For example, articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe are behind a paywall, and most articles from scholarly journals are not freely available. Using library databases allows you to find articles that you can read without having to pay.


2) There is a lot of junk on the web! On the web, anyone can write anything. Resources in library databases were originally published in magazines, newspapers, or scholarly journals, where they were edited and, in the case of journal articles, peer-reviewed. The databases also have tools that allow us to target our results. 


DIRECTIONS: Watch this brief video to learn what databases are and why you should use them!

Yavapai College Library. (2011, September 29).  What are databases and why you need them [Video]. YouTube.

This chart explains the differences among scholarly, popular (magazine and newspaper) and trade articles. Library databases allow you to limit your results to certain types of articles. Always check with your professor to find out which types of articles are acceptable for your research assignments! 

Examples of each type of article 

(Click to view -->)

"Total sleep deprivation decreases flow experience and mood status" "Don't bring your work messes home" "Feeling like you've had it?  Take a nap" "Wrapping it up"
Article Type Scholarly Articles

Magazine Articles

Newspaper Articles

Trade Articles

Article content

Explore an original research question in depth. Heavily rooted in scholarly literature. Often follow a common structure: abstract, introduction, lit review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion.

Short or long articles that address a current event or a topic of interest to the general public.  

Short or long articles that describe a current event soon after the event has occurred.   

Focus on issues in a particular industry or profession. 

Are articles reviewed before being published? 

Content and methodology are peer-reviewed (rigorously evaluated by other experts in the field) before accepted for publication.

Editors proofread and fact-check the articles before publication.

Editors proofread and fact-check the articles before publication.

Editors proofread and fact-check the articles before publication.

Does the article include references? 

Formal in-text citations and reference list included.

No formal citations or reference list. May link to outside sources. 

No formal citations or reference list. May link to outside sources. 

Bibliography/reference list possible.

Who typically writes the articles? 

Scholars and researchers in the field.

Writers or journalists.


Professionals and practitioners in the field.

Who are the articles written for? 

Academics, scholars, and researchers in a particular field or discipline. Written in highly technical language, and background knowledge is assumed. 

Written at an accessible reading level for the general public. 

Written at an accessible reading level for the general public. 

Professionals and practitioners in a particular field. Knowledge of industry jargon is assumed. 

You may be required to find "peer-reviewed" articles for some of your assignments (especially if you are in the nursing or PTA program!). What exactly does "peer-reviewed" mean?


Before being accepted and published in a scholarly journal, a peer-reviewed article is rigorously evaluated by other experts in the field. While peer review is not a perfect process, in many fields, if an article is not from a peer-reviewed journal, it is not viewed as a credible source. 


DIRECTIONS: Watch this video to learn about peer review in three minutes.

Libnscu.  (2014, May 1).   Peer review in 3 minutes [Video].  YouTube.


What to Keep In Mind While Searching Databases:

  • Most databases offer a way to limit your results to FULL TEXT articles. If you do not check off the full-text option, your results will include ABSTRACTS. An abstract is just a summary of the article. If you are in a rush, you might want to limit your results so that you only see the articles that are available in full text. Otherwise, you will need to request the full text from the library. 


  • Most databases also let you limit your results to PEER-REVIEWED or SCHOLARLY articles. If your professor requires peer-reviewed articles, make sure to use that limiter! If you don't select peer-reviewed, your results will include magazine and newspaper articles. 


DIRECTIONS: Watch the two short videos below to learn how to search ProQuest and Gale's Academic OneFile. 

If the full-text of an article is not available through the library's databases, send the article's citation to from your BSC email to request an article through inter-library loan.


Some requests take up to a week to arrive, so plan ahead!  If you are short on time, you can try to locate another article or ask the librarian for help.