UNIV 110 IS - Independent Study

Lesson 4 - Searching Journal Databases


Journals can be confusing and difficult, but they don't need to be.  Let's get ourselves more familiar with these strange resources.


Some terminology:

Journal: An ongoing publication appearing periodically (anywhere from daily like a newspaper to quarterly or even annually)
Article: An individual chapter within a journal.
Volume: Many journals indicate each year of publication with a number; volume 15, for example, would be the fifteenth year of a journal's publication.
Issue: Each individual appearance of the journal within a year; volume 15, issue 3, for example, would be the third time the journal published something within the year.  Issues are often designated as "no." for "number.
Journal database: A search tool to find articles in journals by keyword and subject heading; journal databases are often set up by subject discipline, e.g. Business Source Complete, Atla Religion Database.


1. The concept of the "journal" is fairly simple.  It is a publication that is released in parts over time.  Think of a popular magazine like Time or a scholarly work like Journal of Immunology Research.  A new issue is released every week or every quarter, so that the publication is multi-part and grows over time.  In the scholarly world, journals (scholarly magazines) publish most commonly on a quarterly basis (4 times per year).

2. So how are journal articles created?  An author does research and writes a paper.  The author sends the paper to the editor of a journal, and the manuscript is sent to peer reviewers (other scholars in the same field of research) who accept it (often with required revisions) or else reject it.

3. Journal article formats vary depending on the style you are using (often a choice of APA, MLA or Chicago/Turabian).  Here is the same article in the three main formats:

APA 7th ed.Farrell, R., & Badke, W. (2015). Situating information literacy in the disciplines. Reference Services Review 43(2), 319-340. https://doi:10.1108/RSR-11-2014-0052

MLAFarrell, Robert, and William Badke. "Situating Information Literacy In The Disciplines." Reference Services Review, vol. 43, no. 2, Emerald, 2015, pp. 319-340.

Chicago/TurabianFarrell, Robert, and William Badke. "Situating information literacy in the disciplines." Reference Services Review 43, no. 2 (April 2015): 319-340.

For help with creating citations to journal articles see below.

4. You will need to get rid of some tired old myths:

a. Myth One - The databases used by university libraries are too complicated and Google will do the job much more easily. Not so. The fact is that the results from a Google search are a mixed bag of scholarly and popular websites.  What is more, Google lacks the refinement to narrow down your results to the ones you really need.

b. Myth Two - Most academic journal articles are available through a Google search.  Not so. Surprised?  You shouldn't be once you recognize that most academic journal publishers are in business to earn money from subscriptions, not to give their work away through Google.  Thus libraries have to subscribe to the best journals and use more sophisticated journal databases that connect you to those paid subscriptions.


The world of journal databases can be a bit frustrating.  Each has its own quirks and searching idiosyncrasies. When you finally choose the right search terms in the right combination, you need to decipher the article citations, decide on which ones you want, and then determine whether or not your library has those journals and in what format. 

If it’s this much trouble, why bother with journal articles at all?

  • Because they often have cutting edge material
  • Because they are often very specific to particular issues
  • Because they are short and thus easier to handle than books
  • Because professors know the value of journal articles and will dock student papers that ignore this resource.

Task One

View the short video from Yavapai College entitled, "What are Databases and Why you Need Them." Take note of the reasons why Google will not do the job.  Answer for yourself: What are the reasons why we need databases?

If the above doesn't run, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2GMtIuaNzU



Library OneSearch (http://www.twu.ca/library/) has an articles search tab. This will provide you with a number of journal articles, most of them in full text, from a variety of journal databases.  

See the OneSearch Guide - http://libguides.twu.ca/LibraryOneSearch - for more information on searching and on working with results.

Because journal articles tend to be so plentiful, you usually have to narrow your results.  You can do this by limiting to Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) from the initial search box or in the column to the left of your results.  

You can also limit by one or more subject headings, located in the column to the left of your results.  Subject headings, remember, focus on what the article is actually about and thus tend to cut down on the number of initial results while at the same time narrowing their focus.  Ideally, you want fewer than 100 results to work with.

For example, you could start with a search on servant leader* (note the truncation) and success in an organization.




While OneSearch is a great way to do a comprehensive article search, sometimes it's better to search within a more narrowly focused individual database.  For this, using OneSearch on the library home page, click on Databases, then Articles and Databases:

This will take you to a page listing a number of subject disciplines.  Click on one of them, such as Leadership or  Psychology.

The next page will give you links to various databases.  Use the "Start with these Databases" section as your guide to the strongest databases for your topic.


You will need to log in with the same user name and password you use for your TWU Student Portal.

Searching an academic database requires some skills beyond Google skills.  Here is a page that contains short tutorials for some of our most popular databases: http://libguides.twu.ca/library_research/articles

Task One

View the Business Source Complete tutorial video at https://vimeo.com/162740009/d7bae50ce7. Go to Business Source Complete by starting with the Databases tab above the Library OneSearch search box and going to Leadership. Try a search on: delegation of authority.

OR, go to PsycInfo by starting with the Databases tab above the Library OneSearch search box and finding Psychology. (View the PsycInfo tuturial video at https://vimeo.com/607666445/85cfffda6d.) Try a search on: cognitive therapy AND anxiety.

Two parts of the search are very important:

1. Limit to Scholarly Articles (column to the left of your results).
2. Use the Subject Major Heading section in the left column to limit by subject.  Your keywords that started your search will have picked up articles that are not really relevant.  Using subjects, you narrow your results to the things you really want.  The idea is to get your results down to fewer than 200 if possible.

Google can't do this kind of sophisticated narrowing.  Only academic search engines can.  Play around with these databases and get to know the features that can help you get better results.

Task Two

From the OneSearch tab, Databases, choose the Leadership or Psychology subject and find JSTOR.  This database has no subject headings though the content is very good.  Try a search like "delegation of authority," and see what you can find.  JSTOR can create citations in several formats.  See the Cite this Item box to the right of each result. Note that JSTOR is an archival database, so most articles are 5 years old or older.


If you are using  Google Scholar you need to access it through TWU library home page (http://www.twu.ca/library/ - lower area of screen under Research Tools) to connect it to journals to which the library subscribes. This is important if you want to get the full text of the articles to which our library subscribes. [Sometimes Google Scholar resists you when you go through the library home page, because it thinks it is being attacked. If so, Google "Google Scholar" and go there directly.]


Google Scholar is a special Google-driven database of "academic" material in electronic form (see Textbook, section 7.2.2). The types of resources it finds include citations to books, citations to (and sometimes full text of) published journal articles, conference proceedings, academic websites, and so on. We are including it in the course for a few reasons:

a. It is a "port in the storm" if you want to search for academic information but do not have access to library databases;
b. It provides an opportunity to work with a database that is different from those provided in libraries;
c. It demonstrates the advantages of other search interfaces that have more sophisticated features (like subject headings) as opposed to the rather limited search options available in most open web databases like this one.

Types of citations include:

[Book] - Citation for a book related to your search terms, e.g.

[BOOK] The (Magic) Kingdom of God: Christianity and Global Culture Industries
ML Budde - 1997 - books.google.com
... Library ofCongress Cataloging-in-Publicatkwi Data Budde, Michael L. The (magic)
kingdom of God : Christianity and global culture industries / Michael Budde. ... 
Cited by 7 - Related Articles - Web Search

Article - Usually not designated as an article. Generally from a journal, but sometimes from 
some other source or an unpublished work, e.g.

Three Variant Readings in Luke-Acts
P Parker - Journal of Biblical Literature, 1964 - JSTOR
... of the vine, until until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God the kingdom of God.
shall come. s For some other examples, see Pierson Parker, "Luke and the ... 
Cited by 3 - Related Articles - Web Search

Conference Proceeding Paper - Usually not designated as such, but the citation indicates that it 
comes from a conference, e.g.

Cognitive apprenticeships in education for information literacy. Paper to be presented at the IFLA 5th World Conference on Continuing Professional Education ... 
Cited by 41 - Related Articles - View as HTML - Web Search

[PDF] - Full text available, e.g.

Information Literacy as a Catalyst for Educational Change. A Background Paper
C Bruce - 2004 - eprints.qut.edu.au

[Citation] - A reference to a book or article within a piece of scholarly writing.  It has no link.


Google Scholar has an advanced search feature (as does regular Google) that enables you to formulate Boolean searches more easily. It's not easy to find. To get to it, you have to click on the "hamburger"  symbol in the top left:

There is no sorting option for results, so results will be a mix of references to books, articles and websites. The sort by date option only works for the past year, though you can choose to search for articles from a specific range of dates (see column to the left on the results page). 

Note that you might find a lot of citations only to get the message that full text is not available. This is why you need to log in to Google Scholar through our library home page. Doing so connects GS with our journal list so that you can pick up TWU's full text articles when they are available. 

If you don't see "Check TWU Library" links to our library journals in the Google Scholar results, find out what is happening in your Scholar Settings (see screenshots below).



Below is a screen shot of Google Scholar results. You will notice an article from a journal, an academic PDF without journal indicated, a "citation" without links, and a book. In the case of the article (first citation below) it is not available from this website, but there is a "Check TWU Library" link that will take you to TWU's full text of the article. This feature is only available if you log into Google Scholar through the library home page.


Clicking on the quotation mark symbol under any result will allow you to create citations in a variety of formats. (Note that some Google Scholar data is sometimes incomplete, resulting in incomplete citations. In such cases, you will need to find the rest of the data and insert it yourself.)