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ENG 180 & 280: Database Articles

English & Linguistic Databases

Finding Database Articles


Here are the basics steps using databases to search topics, sort results, and save content to write with.


1. Go to the databases on the library homepage.

2. Enter keywords to the blanks. Nouns work best.
Example: student athletes

Adding quotations ensures phrase terms appear together in order in the results.
Example: “student athletes”

3. Put terms together by adding each idea to a blank. At the end of each blank is AND. The AND between terms means they both have to appear to satisfy the search conditions. When AND is between words (like it is between the search blanks), all the words must be somewhere in the results.
Example: student athletes AND community colleges


1. Limit the Results.
Limiting results helps reduce clutter, focus results, and adjust results to meet research and assignment requirements. You can limit results by type of material, by date, by subject and by oldest, newest, and relevance, and Subjects (aspects of a broader topic).

2. Check the settings for scholarly material. This may read peer reviewed academic journal, or refereed journal. Check this so the only type of results returned are scholarly research articles.




Many library databases include a box that you can check to filter out the non-scholarly articles. While these tools are useful, they are not foolproof. It's a good idea to evaluate each individual article you use to make sure that it comes from a scholarly publication.

3. Sort the results by Date. The last 5 or 10 years will give the most current research. In some cases, like history, you may want to see what the reaction was in in the field in earlier research, other fields like medicine you might want the most current.

4. Identify and / or select subjects. A subject heading applies the most focus to the search, results are fewer but should be the most relevant. You usually click a link to all items on a subject, or search for a subject from the search blanks at the top. You can also use the subject as additional keywords you can add.

5. Sort Relevance. At the top of the list there is usually also control for sorting the list by oldest, newest, or relevance. If the top results seem off, you can sort the list by switching to relevance to get items aligned with your topic appear closer to the top.

6. Search and review results. After adding the settings do the search and review the results.


Figure out what to save
1. Read the titles. If your terms are bolded in the title, it is probably useful. When you find an article title that seems to fit, click to open the detailed record.

2. Read the abstract. This will summarize the research explain the purpose and tell who was involved and what happened.

3. Get the Full text of the article. You should see a link to download the full text if its available and tools or link to save the citation. This will often be under the title on the result list, or inside the detailed record of the title where the abstract is.

4. Get the citation.  Also in the detailed record, you will find the article citation. There is usually a tool on the side or top of the screen. After you open the citation tool, find the citation for the subject you are studying. For example, APA for psychology, or MLA for English. Paste the citation into a document or email it to yourself!

Find It @ WIU

How you can tell if we really have it or not? Most times you will see Full Text or PDF in the results. If you don't. Determining whether or not we have the articles in a database or in the library can be confusing. We have a tool that can help you by using the FIND IT button or link in the database.This will tell you 3 things.

  1. We have the full text in another database.
  2. We have a print copy in the library.
  3. You can order the item from another library.

Find it! button. You must click on it to see whether or not we have an article.


‚ÄčExample of an article that is available at WIU:

  • Full Text:  An online version that you can print off; just click on the Go button.
  • Holdings:  A print version.  It says we own 1986-2003, which includes the year you need.  The citation in Soc Abs is all you need to find the article on the 3rd floor shelves.  Journals are shelved by title, in this case Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology. Then use the date and page numbers listed in the Soc Abs citation.


Example of an article that we do not have immediate access to here at WIU.

  You would need to request a copy through Interlibrary Loan: