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OSU Libraries' How To Guide

This is a guide intended to help anyone 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. Use the DIY: Articles link to get step-by-step instructions on locating an article online.

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.
  • Know what fields the database you're using searches - does it search just the title, abstract, and author-supplied keywords or does it search the full text of the article?
  • 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.

All of these things will impact how well your keywords will match up with what you are trying to find.

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.  Google Scholar is simple to search in, but it does take some practice to learn how to get articles that are not freely available and to make sure you are choosing the best scholarly articles.  <Learn More>

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:  "Feasability of a Home-Delivered Internet Obesity Prevention Program for Fourth-Grade Students" 
    • Click on the eJournals A-Z link and search for the journal title, then navigate to the article using the date, volume, issue and page number information.
  • 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, or search the e-journals or catalog to see if we have the article.

Scholarly articles

College-level research often requires you to find scholarly journal articles (also referred to as peer-reviewed articles or research articles).  Scholary articles are written to convey the results of original study, research or experimentation.  They are written by experts in a discipline for other experts in the discipline. There are often specific sections in a scholarly article, such as an abstract, methods, results and references.  

You can find scholarly articles in general databases like 1Search, in subject-specific databases or via Google Scholar.  Some databases, such as 1Search and Academic Search Premier, have a check box that allows you to narrow your search to just scholarly articles.  However, being able to recognize whether or not you have found a scholarly article is still ultimately your responsibility.

Newspaper articles

Some types of college-level research encourage you to include newspaper articles.  Newspaper articles provide coverage of events and sometimes involve background research done by the reporter.  However, they don't include empirical research (the reporter doesn't conduct an experiment) like scholarly articles often do.

You can find newspaper articles by using specific newspaper databases.  The best newspaper database for you will vary based on whether you are looking for historical or current articles, whether you want national or international coverage, or if you are interested in the perspective of independent media.

General databases like 1Search or Academic Search Premier also include newspapers articles, and usually have a checkbox that allows you to narrow your search to just newspaper articles. 

Accessing the full text of an article

Depending on what database you are using, you may need a little extra help to get to the full text (the PDF or an HTML version) of the article you want to read.

Once you find your citation, you will need to locate the journal to read the article. Some citations will have the full-text of the article available online. For others, click on th FindIt@OSU button to see if OSU subscribes to the electronic or the paper copy of the journal. FindIt@OSU will open a new window and will display a link to full-text when available. If not, request the article from Interlibrary Loan at


What is Interlibrary Loan?

Google Scholar and the OSU Libraries

How do I find something if I have the citation?

Build Research Skills