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OSU Libraries' How To Guide

This is a guide intended to help everyone start their library research.

Finding Articles

Many college-level assignments ask you to find articles. The library provides access to many different kinds of articles from international newspaper articles to popular magazine articles to scholarly journal articles. Whether you are starting with an idea for a topic or the citation for a specific article, the library can get you the article you need. 

Use this page to figure out what type of article works best for your situation and how to develop a search strategy. 

Understanding Keywords

Using keywords effectively is an important step in learning how to find articles. Several tips for deciding which keywords to use are:

  • Focus on the main ideas in your research question.
    • For example in the research question, "What are the benefits of using electric cars as opposed to gas-powered cars?", the main ideas are electric cars and gas-powered cars.
    • If there are two main ideas, it's often best to search for those two ideas separately.
  • Use vocabulary that is appropriate for the type of article you are looking for—newspapers use more general vocabulary, but scholarly articles use more academic terms.
  • The most successful searchers try several different searches. As you read the articles in the results, keep track of new search terms to try, and then repeat your searches with these new ideas. In this example, you might add in the terms economic, environmental, or manufacturing.

Here is an example of the first search for electric cars. Notice that I limited my search on the right to just peer-reviewed articles:


Finding an Article on a Topic

You use the search terms from your research topic to search for journal articles on a topic—usually in a database.

Start your searches with broad searches (2-3 keywords, not too specific) in a general database like 1Search or Google Scholar.

If your topic is more specialized, you may want to search in a subject database. Subject databases are available through the library for almost every topic from anthropology to zoology. Use the database subject filter to choose a database that matches your topic.

Locating a Specific Article

If you have an article citation and want to find that specific article, you can find it several ways.

  • 1Search
    • Search for the article title. It is often useful to put quotes around the article title to find the exact title you want.
      • Example:  "Feasibility of a Home-Delivered Internet Obesity Prevention Program for Fourth-Grade Students" 
  • Google Scholar
    • Use the article title. Again, it is often useful to put quotes around the article title to find the exact title you want. If you find articles that are not freely available, be sure to set up your Google Scholar preferences to talk to the OSU Libraries.

What Is Interlibrary Loan?

Google Scholar and the OSU Libraries

How Do I Find Something if I Have the Citation?