Advanced Search Strategies and Library Sources


Scholarly sources will provide the strongest articles to support your academic writing projects. Finding exactly what you need becomes more specialized and difficult when working with scholarly sources, and it requires a new set of searching strategies beyond Google Scholar.

For this kind of research, you’ll want to utilize library databases, as this video explains.

Credit: “Library Search” by BYU Library Online Learning License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube License.

Illustration showing a blue circle in the center labeled Databases. Arrows lead from the circle to colored text bubbles showing the following information about databases: Contain scholarly articles, Contain citation information needed for bibliographies, Contain abstracts of articles, Can be called periodical indexes or article indexes.
Figure 5.3

Many journals are sponsored by academic associations. Most of your professors belong to some big, general one (such as the Modern Language Association, the American Psychological Association, or the American Physical Society) and one or more smaller ones organized around particular areas of interest and expertise (such as the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the International Association for Statistical Computing).

Finding articles in databases

Your campus library invests a lot of time and care into making sure you have access to the sources you need for your writing projects. Many libraries have online research guides that point you to the best databases for the specific discipline and, perhaps, the specific course. Librarians are eager to help you succeed with your research—it’s their job, and they love it!—so don’t be shy about asking.

The following video demonstrates how to search within a library database. While the examples are specific to Northern Virginia Community College, the same general search tips apply to nearly all academic databases. On your school’s library homepage, you should be able to find a general search button and an alphabetized list of databases. Get familiar with your own school’s library homepage to identify the general search features, find databases, and practice searching for specific articles.



Adapted from Lumen Learning’s “Advanced Source Strategies” from English Composition II used according to CC BY 4.0.


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UNM Core Writing OER Collection Copyright © 2023 by University of New Mexico is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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