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Research Process: 2c. Find Articles

No matter what stage of the research process you're at--only beginning, stuck in the middle, or finishing up with citation polishing--this guide is a great resource for you.

2c. Find Articles

2c. You have three choices when it comes to searching for articles: databases, the library catalog, and the Internet.

Searching the library's catalog was detailed in Step 2a. Internet searches are explained in Step 2dWe suggest you begin your initial searches with either a database or the catalog, and we'll explain the way to begin database searching for articles below.

Depending upon the database you are using, articles may be displayed in different formats:

  • Full-text: Includes an electronic copy of the actual article. Depending on the database, the article may be available in HTML format, .pdf format (displays the article as it originally appeared in the magazine with graphics and pictures), or both.
  • Abstract: Includes the article’s citation information and a brief summary of the article's content. Abstracts do not include the full-text article.
  • Index: Includes only the article’s citation information (e.g. author, title, date, volume, etc.). Neither a summary, nor the full-text of the article are available.




Choosing a Database

Article databases provide you with 24/7 access to magazine, journal and newspaper articles through the library's web page. To help you identify the most appropriate database for your topic/subject, choose either a subject-specific database or a multidisciplinary database. Both are available by going to the library's homepage, and clicking on the Databases link under "Research". You may find databases selected for your topics by using the Subject Guides set up by librarians. These are found on the library's homepage.

How to Search for Articles

Although databases vary, basic search strategies work well in most. Watch the quick overview below, and remember the key concepts, and you'll feel confident accessing and searching.


Looking for articles on your topic? Begin with a database, and select one of the many available from the Viterbo Library's Database List. (This list is located on the "Research" tab of the library's homepage.) If you know the database you're looking for like Cinahl, ERIC or Academic Search Complete, select it from the list. If you'd like a list of recommended databases, try Subject Guides.

Once you enter a database, type in some keywords. A rule of thumb is "less is more." In other words, don't put in full sentences, but use single words or short phrases. Also, try you main topic word plus one or two subtopic word choices. It helps to keep your searching simple.

  • If you'd like peer-reviewed results, scroll down the page to see if you have an option in the limiter box.
  • If you'd like a certain date range, choose that.
  • Once you've generated a results list, narrow on the left-hand side. 
  • Remember, you're using a keyword search, which means the articles have mentioned your word choices. To be more precise, consider using a subject search, which means you choose the words recommended by the database.
  • You may find suggested subject terms on the left-hand column, but you may be able to use the thesaurus on the top of the database page, too.

Access to Databases

Here are some tips and suggestions about accessing databases:

  • Are you off campus? You may need to enter your Viterbo username and password to access databases. 
  • Databases are available to currently-enrolled VU students and faculty and staff.
  • If you need an item that says it's available in print only, off-campus students can request it and we will scan/email it to you. Use your ILLiad account to request the item.

If you come across an article you need for your research, and the Library does not provide full-text access to it in print or electronic format, request it through Interlibrary Loan. We have tutorials available for you to learn how to use your Interlibrary Loan account. 

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