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UNST 231A Gender & Sexualities - McDaneld: Articles & Databases

Why Journal Articles and what have 'Databases' got to do with it?

Journal articles can have any one of several characteristics including: report the results of an experiment or study, lay out a new theory, or provide an indepth examination of event or phenomenon to name but a few purposes. Articles are generally short and highly focused on one topic. Scholarly journals are where new conversation in a discipline first appears. Many scholars keep up on what's happening in their discipline by reading a handful of disciplinary journals.

Databases are subject specific collections of information about individual journal articles.  The disciplinary databases collect the information about articles that have been published in the wide array of the discipline's journals. You use keyword and subject heading searching in a database to find articles on your topic of interest.

Article databases

Once you've thought through which disciplines would be interested in your topic, use the appropriate database by subject page to choose the database that will cover that discipline.

Get Full Text with Find It @ PSU

If the article citation does not include links to the full text, click on the Find it @ PSU  button to check availability. Find it @ PSU is the link to the full text (online or print), that leads  to the full text will appear under View Online. If it is not available, there will be an option to request the article from Interlibrary Loan & Article Delivery.

Find it @ PSU button

Brainstorming Search Words

Moving from a Research Question to a Search Strategy in 4 Steps

Moving from a research question to an effective search strategy involves breaking down the question into its Core Concepts, brainstorming Keywords, and then constructing an effective Search Strategy. You can do this in 4 steps.

1. Articulate your research question

Is union representation good for public employees in Oregon?

2. Break down your research question into its core concepts.

  • Union Representation
  • Public Employees
  • Oregon

3. Now list alternative ways of describing these concepts.

Your list can include broader, narrower, and related concepts.

Core Concept Brainstorm
Union Representation: Collective Bargaining labor union labor dispute SEIU
Public Employees: workers state worker employee staff
Oregon: Pacific Northwest Washington United States Portland

4. Create multiple search strategies by combining words from your concept brainstorm list.

  • Union AND employee AND portland
  • (Labor Union OR collective bargaining) AND state work* AND oregon
  • Etc.


  • Use truncation (an * at the root of a word to find different word forms. For example, librar* will find libraries, librarian, librarians, etc. 
  • Use parentheses and the OR operator to "nest" your search--different terms/phrases that represent the same concept.
  • Use quotation marks for phrase searching.
  • Use Boolean operators to connect search terms:
    • OR -- finds results with either or both terms -- it is used to broaden your search.
    • AND -- finds results with both terms -- it is used to narrow your search.

Acknowledgement: The content in this box was based off of Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh's work at Georgia State University Library.