Kenneth J. Shouldice Library Help Me!
Choose an appropriate database
Articles are found in periodicals, and periodicals are
indexed. To look for an article on a specific topic, you need to
look in a database, the online version of an index. In our
library, the way you access databases, is to go to the
Library web page, and click
on the Find Articles and Other Resources link. I reccomend that
you open the library's web page in a second window, by clicking on the
link with the right mouse button, and select "Open link in new window."
Then you can read this information while you perform your search.
The Find Articles and Other Resources Page opens with a listing
of subjects. To start, click on the topic General. This will scoot
you down the page, to the general databases.
What is a General Database?
A general database is one
that represents no specific subject area. Any topic may be found
here, unlike the subject specific databases which specialize. General
databases are great for when you would like an overview on a topic, or
when your topic is covered by two or more subject areas. Until recently,
general databases were usually not very academic. We now have a number
of general databases that are extremely academic. The benefit of a
scholarly general database is that users can find in depth information
across many disciplines or subject areas. But we're getting ahead of
ourselves. Let's look at information in a couple of less academic,
Less Academic General Databases
General Reference Center Gold is a typical general database. It
indexes a number of magazines and journals covering a broad range of
topics. Some of the material is full text, and other items are not.
Open General Reference Center Gold in your other window, and look
options. There should be three search boxes. Below that is a box that
you may click to limit your results to full text, below that is another
box that you may click to limit your results to peer-reviewed, and below
that are boxes allowing you to limit your results to include images or
materials published within your defined date span.
Typing in a term or two, just like you would if you were using Google or
Yahoo, is pretty easy. This database, unlike those search engines, lets
you do more sophisticated things, however. You can type a term in one
box, and use it as a keyword, and then in the next box down, you can type
in the specific name of an author, or any of a number of other
limiters. You identify the limiters by clicking on the drop down menu
and selecting the limiter--so if you've typed an author's last
name, choose the limiter Author, if you've typed the title of an
article, choose the limiter Title. (Google does let you do that,
but most people aren't aware of it, and since Google searches web pages,
rather than published articles, most of those limiters wouldn't help
you, anyway.) Drop down menus are available in all of our
databases. If you have a specific author, title, subject
heading, or journal title (among other search limiters), choose
the appropriate limiter.
If you type in a term or two, and press Search, browse through
the results. The most recent material will be at the top, while the
older articles will be at the bottom. Every item listed has been
published in a magazine or journal. There is nothing listed that someone
put up on the web to feed their ego, everything has been published by a
magazine or journal. Granted, sometimes there are advertisements and
letters to the editor that show up in your results, but all the results
have been published somewhere.
General Reference Center Gold offers many types of information.
Near the top of the page are tabs. The first tab is Magazines and the
number that follows indicates how many articles appear in magazines.
Information from magazines is generally informational, not
academic. It can be a great place to look for an overview of a topic.
The second tab is Academic Journals. The information in academic
journals may be the peer-reviewed reporting of research, an
informational notice about research someone is pursuing, or even a book
review of books that might be of interest to the regular readers of
that journal. To see the list
of academic journal articles, you simply need to click on the Academic
Journals tab. The Books tab lists book information, usually from
various one volume dictionaries and encyclopedias. The News tab
provides articles from newspapers, and the Multimedia tab offers
videos and podcasts.
In examining the results, you will notice that the most recent materials
are listed first, and the oldest materials are listed at the end. Each
item should include the title of the article, and other citation
information. Most articles will also indicate the length of the article,
whether it is 120 words or 32 pages. Finally, in the results area, you
will see whether there is a link to full text, a citation or an
abstract. If there is not full text available through the database, you
will see a link that says Search for full text. To see if the
item is available through another database, or in paper, click on the
Search for full text link. A new window will open.
Back at the results screen, to look at the citation--and article if
available--you need to click on the title link. The new screen should
provide the full citation of the item, the subject headings, if any, to
the left. If the full text is available, it should be at the bottom
of the page.
- If the item is avaialble in one other database, it will usually
open directly to the item.
- If it is available in more than one database, the list of
databases will appear, and you should be able to click on one of the
suggested databases to get the full text.
- Sometimes the screen will indicate that we subscribe to the item in
paper. If we subscribe to the item in paper, you simply need to go to the
top floor of the library, and find the journal. They are alphabatized by
the name of the journal, and then chronologically. So if you're looking
for the May 15, 2002 copy of Journal of American Dog Sledding
(I made that up), you go to the top floor of the library, find the J's,
then find the specific journal--each word is alphabetized--and finally
find the correct issue. Copy machines are on the main floor of the
library, or you may take notes.
- If no results are found, and you still would like the item (you
should look at the abstract first, to decide if it really will be
useful to you), you may request it on Interlibrary Loan. There should
be a link that says Borrow this item through interlibrary loan
(Preferred Method) and one which says Request this item through
interlibrary loan (Alternate Method). Click on the Preferred
Method link first. Hopefully, it will open to a form you may fill
out to request your item. If it indicates that the Preferred
Method won't work, click on the Alternate Method of
requesting the Interlibrary Loan, and fill out the form. Don't forget to
click on Submit! Interlibrary Loan articles usually come within a
week. Some come more quickly, and some never come. So, if you're in a
hurry, Interlibrary Loan probably isn't for you. And, if you've picked a
topic where you would need to Interlibrary Loan all of your materials,
you should probably consider choosing a different topic, or talk with a
librarian to determine if maybe there isn't a better database that will
yield results that are availble here.
- Finally, you may see results that indicate that the item is held
Northern Michigan University. This pops up because they use the same
catalog we do. If you want an item they own, you need to fill out an
Interlibrary Loan request form, as described previously.
On the right side of the screen is a box, bordered in red. The top
choice is Print Preview, which will re-formulate the screen so
any excess graphics are gone, and whitespace is minimized. There are
E-mail and Download links, and a Citation Tools
link. The Citation Tools link lets you identify whether you
would like the citation in APA or MLA format, and then produces the
citation in that format for you. Warning! It's not always
accurate. But, it's a good start. Double check the citation with a
A similar use database is Wilson Select Plus. Wilson
Select Plus provides indexing to approximately 2400 periodicals,
from 1993 to the present. Every article indexed in Wilson Select
Plus is available full text. At the Wilson Select Plus search
screen, type in a term or two. You can click on the drop down menus to
specific if a term or terms are part of the title, the author's name,
or the title of the journal, among other choices. There are other
choices, lower on the screen. You needn't click on the Full text
box, as every article listed in Wilson Select Plus is available
full text. And, since every article is available full text, you needn't
click on the Subscriptions held by my library tab, either. When
you've entered your search terms, click on the Search button.
The results page lists articles meeting your search criteria. Every
entry should list citation information, and include links to the full
text of the article, most in both PDF and HTML format.
Click on the title of one record. You should see a page that includes
links to the full text of the article. It may also tell you whether the
library has copies of the magazine or journal in paper. If the LSSU
library holds the magazine or journal in paper, it would be listed
behind the words Local Holdings Information. If the final year
ends with a -, that means we still subscribe to the item. If it closes,
meaning it ends with a year (e.g. -1992), that means the last year we
subscribed to the item was that year. You should be able to find the
paper copies of that magazine or journal by looking alphabetically, by
title, on the top floor of the library. Further down the page is a
Search for full text link. That might help you find the full text
of the article if you were in a database that didn't already provide the
full text. You can find out more about the Search for full text
link at this
link. The Cite this Item link will provide a citation in four
formats, including MLA and APA. Again, double check the information.
While it's a good start, there are so many variations of the formats
that the Cite this Item link is rarely perfect.
Further down the page you have the citation information, and eventually
an Abstract. Reading the abstract can help you determine whether reading
the entire article will help you with your project.
Finally, there is a list of subject headings. If one of the subject
headings is exactly on your topic, click on it. That will take you to
the collection of articles that deal specifically with your
You can click on the View Full Text link to see the full text of
the article. You may save this article, or e-mail it.
Back on the results page, you can click on the box to the left of each
article, to mark the item, then near the top of the page, click
on the Marked Records bubble, and get options to e-mail or print
You use a less academic database to find overviews in readable articles.
Some of the material found in the less academic databses will be the
presentation of research, but most articles are just informative in
Academic General Databases
Academic general databases are relatively new. There have been
less-academic general databases and indexing for many years, but
it has only been recently that computerized indexing has allowed
what is basically the merging of many subject specific
databases, filled with academic materials.
Academic general databases scan a broad range of topics, hence the
general nature of these databases, but the contents they present
are usually scholarly. These databases index and abstract materials from
journals, often presenting peer-reviewed research. There is usually
less full text in the academic databases. The purpose of these databases
is to let users know an article exists, not deliver it to their screen,
though that is always a plus. Most users of academic databases are very
motivated to find the answers to their questions, and are willing to work
a little harder, and wait a little longer, to get a copy
of articles that have been identified. The real benefit of general
topic academic databases are that researchers that are examining one
aspect of a question, in one discipline, by doing a search in a general
academic database, may find that a researcher in another discipline is
working on a similar question. They can build on each other's knowledge,
or refute it, but sometimes the only reason they even know the other
person's research exists is because of one of these merged, mega
Academic Onefile is one of our general academic databases. It
indexes and abstracts materials from more than 12,000 journals. To
access Academic Onefile, go to the Find Articles and Other
Resources page, and click on the General category. From
there, choose Academic Onfile which is listed under the More
Academic databases. The next screen will look very much like the
search screen for General Reference Center Gold. The vender,
Gale, is the same as the provider of General Reference Center
Gold, and the screen is basically the same. The difference is the
pool of information it searches. While some journals are indexed in
both, there are many more titles indexed in Academic Onefile.
(4,500 in General Reference Center Gold vs. 12,000 in Academic
To look for information on a topic, type your topic in one of the search
boxes. You may add other topics, too. If you add them to the same search
box, you should type AND between them. So, if I were looking for
information about student athletes and their gradepoints, I might put
athletes in one box, and student success in another box. I
could also type athletes and student success in one box. Either
way I write that would do the same search. There are a number of boxes
below the search screen. I prefer to not check the full text box.
If I click the full text box, I don't get access to the materials that
are full text in other databases. If my needs warrented it, I would
click on the peer-reviewed box. That would mean that the database would
only search for my terms in the journals which have been identified as
peer-reviewed. That doesn't mean that every article within that journal
is peer-reviewed. There may be a few articles about an association's
meeting, or short articles alerting people to some interesting research
that someone is doing. Even peer-reviewed journals have "news" sections.
I may also limit my search to documents with images. That's important if
the research has charts, graphs, tables, etc., but I usually don't click
that option. If my search identifies an item that is useful, and this
database doesn't provide the charts, I'll find a way to get the article
AND its charts some other way. Finally, I can limit my search by date,
and by the title of the journal.
The results will list items, most recent first, and oldest at the end.
There are tabs above the search results. The left most is labeled
Academic Journals, and the tabs list a few more categories. You
also have the option to limit it to full text, peer-reviewed or with
images by clicking in the boxes below the tabs. In the academic
databases, there will not be as much full text as there was in General
Reference Center Gold or Wilson Select Plus. Below each title will be
some link choices. Full text may be one of them,
Finding the right subject database
This is as much art as it is a simple choice. We have listed many, but
not all, of our databases on the subject listing found on the Find
Articles and Other Resources page. It may help you to know how we,
the librarians, put them in the order you see. We separated the databases
by subject, then listed them in the order we felt students would be most
likely to be successful finding information for LSSU classes. In many
instances, it means the best database for a specific topic is near the
bottom of the list, on the more pages, or not even listed. It
does mean that the databases we recommend are likely to provide
citations to materials we possess, and that are written at a level our
students can understand and use. So, first choose the appropriate
subject for your topic. Second, check to see if there are any sub
categories that might help you find appropriate information for your
search. Examples of subjects with sub categories include Business,
Medicine, and General. Finally, take our advice and try searching the
top database. If you are still having problems finding what you want or
need, talk to a librarian.