CST 110: Intro to Finding Articles

Open Murphy Library Homepage in another browser window to work through this tutorial side by side.


In this tutorial you will learn how to use Murphy Library's article databases.

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Create a search strategy to find articles about your research topic.
  • Demonstrate skill in finding materials by correctly interpreting a database record.
  • Find and retrieve the full text of an article located in an article database.

You will take a quiz in your CST 110: LD Information Literacy Canvas course page over the information in this tutorial.

Use the arrows below to navigate through the tutorial.

Create a search strategy

Before doing any searching, you need to develop a search strategy. Before developing a strategy, you need to have an idea for your research topic.

  • A search strategy is the words and techniques you will use to find information on your research topic.  

For this tutorial, our research topic is:

How reality TV depicts teen pregnancy.  

Our search strategy should use words that describe the main ideas in our topic.  

  • Our search strategy is: reality TV AND pregnancy.
  • We are using the keywords "reality TV" & "pregnancy" and the Boolean Operator AND

Now that we have a research topic and a search strategy, we can begin looking for information.  

Where to look for articles

In college, you often need to find a authoritative article written by someone with expertise about the topic.  

You could do a Google Search, but you may find articles that are not accurate or credible.  (More on this in Tutorial 3: Evaluating Sources.)

Using the Murphy Library resources, you can:

  • Find authoritative & accurate articles more quickly.
  • Find scholarly sources, which are often required for college assignments.

Looking at the Murphy Library homepage on the right of this screen, your instinct is probably to search for articles using the big search box in the middle of the page.  You can search for articles there, but it's not the most efficient way.

Accessing Article Databases

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Using an article database is the most efficient way to find authoritative & accurate articles.

  • An article database is collection of articles that is designed to be searchable. 
  • Unlike using Google to search the web, the only things inside of an article database are articles published in scholarly or trade journals.  

There are two ways to access Murphy Library databases: by title or by subject. We'll focus on using Databases by Title. Click here for a screenshot of how to access the Databases by Title.

Accessing Article Databases

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We have about 240 article databases.  You do not need to search in all of them!  

We'll focus on the database Academic Search Ultimate.  This is a great database to use for many different topics.    

Searching Using Keywords

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Click here to get back to Murphy Library's homepage.

Let's do a search. We'll use the research topic and search strategy from the beginning of this tutorial.

Research topic: How reality TV depicts teen pregnancy

Search Strategy: reality TV and pregnancy

1. If you have not already, click on the Databases by Title link in the Search@UW dropdown menu.

2. Type Academic Search Ultimate into the search box and click on the green search button.

3. Choose Academic Search Ultimate from the list of databases. ASU is a great multidisciplinary article database to begin your research. 

Note: If you are off campus, you may be prompted to enter your NetID and password to gain access to the database.

Searching Using Keywords

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Research topic: How reality TV depicts teen pregnancy

Search Strategy: reality TV and pregnancy

3. Now that we're in the database, we can use our search strategy to find articles about our topic.

In this database, we should separate concepts by putting each one in a different search box.  

  • Enter reality television in the first search box
  • Enter pregnancy in the second search box
  • Need Help? Look at this search example

4. Click on the green Search button.

5. The search returns a list of articles.

Searching Using Subject Terms

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We received back a manageable number of search results.  With this amount of results, we can quickly scan through the titles to select the most relevant articles.  

But, we could make our search more specific if we wanted even fewer results.   

Our first search strategy was reality TV and pregnancy.  This was a keyword search.  We picked the important ideas from our topic using our own words.  To make the search more specific, we should use a subject search

Subject terms are not the same as keywords. 

  • Subject terms are tags applied to articles based on what the article is about.  
  • Subject terms could be the same as our keywords for a topic, but they may be more technical and specific. 
  • Subject terms are the preferred search language of the database.

Watch this short video on keyword and subject searching in EbscoHost databases (Academic Search Ultimate) and then click on the next arrow to practice a search of your own.

Searching Using Subject Terms

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We can use the results of our first keyword search to find subject terms for our research topic.

1. From the results list for our first search, click on the title, Risky, Dramatic, and Unrealistic: Reality Television Portrayals of Pregnancy and Childbirth and their Effects on Women's Fear and Self-Efficacy.

2. Look at the list of subject terms assigned to the article. One of the subject terms is ATTITUDES toward pregnancy. Adding this subject term to our search may help us locate articles that discuss the ways in which pregnancy is portrayed on television and how that influences our understanding of pregnancy. 

3. Go back to your search box at the top of the screen. You should still your original search (reality tv AND pregnancy). Now, add ATTITUDES toward pregnancy to the third search box.

4. Then change the value in the Select a Field box, located to the right of the search box, to SU subject terms.

Searching Using Subject Terms

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5. Click on the green Search button. 

6. By performing a subject search, you've retrieved a much more specific set of articles to use in your research.

If you need more practice with subject searching, watch this video again and try a few more searches on your own.

Choosing an Article

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Once you have performed a keyword or subject search, you'll need to evaluate your list of results and choose the best articles for your research. 

On the left-hand side of your screen, you will see a column labeled Refine Results.

Try It: In the Refine Results column, check the box to limit your results to Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals. Choosing this option will narrow down your results to articles published in scholarly journals.  

You can also narrow down by Publication Date and Source Type to further refine your list of results.

**Note: If you already have a small set of results, you may not see a change when using the "Refine Your Results" feature. These features work best when you have a large set of results to work with.

(More about scholarly sources in Tutorial 3: Evaluating Sources. This video offers a brief and clear explanation of the differences between scholarly & popular sources and how to identify a scholarly or peer-reviewed article.)

Choosing an Article

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Try It: Now that we have refined our search results, we can begin to look at individual articles.

1. Click on the blue, hyperlinked title of any article on the page that looks interesting to you.

2. Once you're in the article record you can read the article abstract, located in the center column of the page, to make sure that the article is appropriate for your research.

Other Ways to Search

In addition to searching by keyword and subject term, you can search by article title, author, journal title, and year.

Try It: Practice finding an article in the database. Use the APA citation below to find the article in Academic Search Ultimate.  

Ghadery, F. (2019). #Metoo—has the “sisterhood” finally become global or just another product of neoliberal feminism? Transnational Legal Theory, 10(2), 252–274. 

Watch this short video for help interpreting the citation.

Saving Sources

All of the following options are located on the right-hand side of the page in Academic Search Ultimate, but may be located elsewhere in a different database. 

Permalink: Most research databases include a link in the article record. Copying and pasting the URL from the address bar may not work in the future as these links are usually session-specific. Use the Permalink icon on the right-hand side of the page to generate a link back to your article.

Email: To email an article from a library database to yourself, use the e-mail icon and follow the on screen instructions.The procedure will vary slightly, depending on which database you are using. You need to be clear on what information you are emailing.

Cite: For help citing the article, click on the link in the right-hand menu. This will give you a variety of citation formats for your article.

Finding Full-Text

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Most of the articles that you find in Academic Search Ultimate are available in full-text, but some are not. If that is the case, you need to use the orange Find It! button to locate the full-text in a different database.

Finding Full-Text

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Try It: We're going to search for this article:

Braun, L., Tichy, A., Peham, C., & Bockstahler, B. (2019). Comparison of vertical force redistribution in the pads of dogs with elbow osteoarthritis and healthy dogs. Veterinary Journal, 250, 79–85.

  • A citation gives you all the information you need to find an article. Watch this short video for help interpreting the citation.

1. In Academic Search Ultimate, click on the New Search link in the blue bar at the top of the web page.

2. Type the title of the of article into the first search box.

3. Change the value in the Select a Field box to TI Title.

4. Click on the green Search button.

5. Click on the orange Find It! button at the bottom of the record. A new window will open. Close it to return to this tutorial.

Finding Full-Text

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Screenshot of the steps on this page.

6. If full-text of the article is available in another database, you will see green text indicating that the source is available as well as blue links to other databases.

7. Click on one of the blue database links.

8. Sometimes the article is not available in full-text. Then you can request it through Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan/ILLiad, and usually, it will be sent to your email address as a PDF within a few days.

If you encounter a problem getting the full-text, you can always use the Report a Problem link. This link results in a form that goes directly to Murphy Library’s E-Resources staff, who will work with you to get you the information you need.


Now you are ready to take Quiz 2 - Finding Articles in your CST 110: LD Information Literacy Canvas course page.

The practice questions included in this tutorial are not the quiz.

Do you still have questions? Ask the librarians!