This is the "Searching for Journal Articles" page of the "MA - IS Research Guide" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

A collaborative project between The Centre for Integrated Studies and AU Library
Last Updated: Oct 23, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Searching for Journal Articles Print Page

Remote Access to Databases

All current AU students, faculty and staff can access AU Library's online collections via the Internet. To login, use the same username and password you use to access MyAU or your Moodle courses.


Research Tip

Please note that just because the journal name appears in the journal title list it does not necessarily mean that we have the specific article you are looking for. Use the publication date for the journal article to determine which database to search for the article.


Advanced Searching in a Journal Database

Subject Searching in Journal Databases

Searching by subject in a database is similar to subject searching a library catalogue. Contents (articles/abstracts/citations) of databases are indexed and assigned subject headings by specialists. These headings are not necessarily the same as those assigned by the Library of Congress or the National Library of Canada, but they are often similar. It is important to note that these headings may vary from database to database. Most databases provide a way to search the subject field and some allow you to browse their subjects list to help you determine the terms that are used to describe specific topics or concepts. In most journal databases, subject searching is done from the Advanced Search screen, whereas keyword searching can be done on both the basic and advanced search screens.

As with subject searching in a library catalogue, doing a keyword search is a good way to help you figure out the appropriate heading for your topic, keeping in mind that not all databases show you the subject headings. To learn more about constructing keyword searches, view the Tips for Searching tutorial.

Searching Other Fields in Journal Databases

The advanced search screens of most databases allow you to search other fields besides subject. For example, it is often possible to search by Author, Title, Author Supplied Keywords, abstract, and sometimes Geographic Location. Searching these fields can be a useful way to help you narrow your results lists to more relevant articles.


Using the AU Journal Title List

AU Journal Title List

Many researchers find it useful to identify key periodicals in their discipine, and in related disciplines, and target those journals for searching. While it is possible to do this by searching for journal titles in library catalogues to see if specific libraries in your area hold the journal, it is more effective to search the AU Journal Title List to determine where full text of specific journals can be found. This is a good way to determine useful databases to search for your topic, but is also useful if you have a citation for a specific journal article, and wish to find out where full text can be found.

The AU Journal Title List provides a list of databases where full text of particular journals can be found, along with an indication of the dates covered by each database. If you see "Athabasca University Library print holdings" in the results list, it means that AU Library also has access to some issues in print. You can request that print articles be sent to you by contacting the Library Information Desk.

To learn how to search this very helpful tool, please view the tutorial.

Keep in mind that while a bit of browsing can be useful, for the most part you will want to use a periodical indexing tool, such as the databases described on the Databases tabs in this guide to see if the journal has a relevant article on your topic. AU Library staff are also happy to help you determine which databases you should target, so please contact us if you have questions.


Now It's Your Turn

Try a search in JSTOR on the effect of Inuit culture on the ecology of the area.

Too few results? You may need to broaden your search.

  • Think of more synonyms and related terms to be combined with the OR operator:
    • e.g. (Inuit or Eskimo) and (culture or customs or heritage or social or communities) and (ecology or environment)
  • Use truncation to vary the ending of words. The asterisk * is the symbol commonly used for truncation but check the database help files if you're not sure:
    • e.g. cultur* will retrieve culture, cultures, cultural, etc. It is a good idea to put the truncation symbol as close to the end of the word as possible so as to retrieve the most relevant results.
  • The AND operator narrows a search so you may want to reduce the number of concepts in your search strategy.

Too many results? You may need to narrow your search.

  • Try removing some of the synonyms/related terms:
    • e.g. search for Inuit and cultur* and ecolog* instead of (Inuit or Eskimo) and (culture or customs or heritage or social or communities) and (ecology or environment)
  • Try adding additional concepts to focus your search
  • In JSTOR, go to the Advanced Search screen and choose the specific disciplines you want to search within, e.g. Anthropology and Sociology.

Athabasca University Library
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm (MT)
Phone: (800) 788-9041, ext. 6254


Loading  Loading...