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Research Planning Guide

Use this guide to learn about the research process and plan your research project.

Step 7: Find Articles

Articles from journals, magazines, and other publications are normally the most useful resources for a researcher.  However, finding the best articles for your paper or project can be challenging. This section will help you understand articles and show you how and where to find articles from popular, professional, and scholarly sources(What's the difference?  Look below!)

This portion of the planning guide includes several different pages.  To view one of these pages, mouse over the Step 7 tab, then make your selection from the drop-down list.  Here's what you will find:

  • How to Find Articles - step-by-step instructions on finding articles from a variety of starting points
  • Power Searching - how to maximize your search strategies and get the best results
  • Special Searches - how to use subject searches and publication searches
  • More About Articles - how to read the citation information, and what to do if the article is not available in full-text

If you're ready to start searching for articles now, visit our A-Z Databases page.  You can choose article databases by their title, or search for databases by subject, type, or provider.

Popular, Professional, and Scholarly Journals

CRITERIA

POPULAR MAGAZINES

PROFESSIONAL/TRADE MAGAZINES

SCHOLARLY JOURNALS

Authors

Journalists, staff writers, popular authors (or the author may not be listed)

Staff writers and experts in the field

Researchers and experts

Audience

The general public

Members of an industry, trade, or profession

Researchers and experts

Documentation

Sources usually not cited

Sources may be cited

Sources always cited

Content

General interest, news, or entertaining stories

Current trends, standards, and new technology in a discipline or profession

Original research findings, scholarly reports, methodology, and theory

Language

Broad, simple language that anyone can understand

Jargon that requires some expertise in the field

Jargon that assumes expertise in the field

Publisher

Commercial organizations

Associations

Associations or Universities

Appearance

Glossy paper, many advertisements, heavily illustrated in color

Glossy paper, trade-related advertisements, moderately illustrated in color

Plain paper, few academic-related ads (or none at all), charts / graphs, some black and white illustrations

Review Policy

Reviewed by editors

Reviewed by editors

Reviewed by peers and experts in the field (editorial boards made of distinguished scholars)

Examples

Newsweek, Economist, Psychology Today, Cooking Light

Advertising Age, Publisher's Weekly, Chemical and Engineering News

Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Southern History, Journal of Modern Literature, Annual Review of Biochemistry

Articles vs. Books

Good research will rely on books and journal articles, because each medium brings its own strengths to the table.

Aspect

Articles

Books

Length

Shorter – Articles typically run from 10 to 30 pages (some are longer).

Longer – Most academic books average 200-300 pages.

Focus

Narrower – Articles tend to focus on a narrow topic or sub-topic.

Broader – Books cover the broad spectrum; chapters divide the content.

Currency

Newer – Content can go from writing to publication within a few months to 1 year.

Older – It takes a long time to write, sell, edit, print, and eventually publish a book: 1 to 3 years.

Discovery

Database – Articles are found in journals, which are published several times a year.  A database collects articles as they are published and makes them available online.  A database (or the catalog linked to a database) can pinpoint the articles you need.

Catalog – Books are published just once (usually).  The catalog is the searchable list of all the books owned by the library.\