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ENG 111/ENF 3: College Composition I (Online): Articles

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Introduction to Searching Library Databases

The NOVA Libraries offer many databases. Watch this 3-minute video for an introduction to databases, including:

  • What is a database?
  • Where are they located?
  • What can I find in a database?
  • Quick search tips
  • Database tools for printing, emailing, and citing articles

Why can't I just use Google?

This video by Yavapai College Library in Prescott, Arizona demonstrates the different types of information found in Google versus library databases. 

Click the  icon located in the bottom right corner to watch the video in fullscreen mode.

Where do I find articles?

Articles are published in periodicals, which is any type of publication published at a regular interval (weeks, months, etc.).  Periodical types include magazines, newspapers, trade publications, and scholarly journals.  It is important to understand what kind of periodical will have the articles you need.  More information on finding peer-reviewed articles.

Search Tips

Identify Your Keywords

Select the most important 2-3 keywords. These are terms related to your topic. For instance, let's say your argument essay debates if global warming is affecting people in the tropics. Your keywords could be:

global warming, people, tropics

 Compose Your Search String

In order to find information in a database, you must create a search string. This is a combination of keywords and search operators (e.g. AND, OR, *) that tells the database the information you want to receive. Here are a few tips:

1. Use quotation marks ( "  " ) around phrases (two or more words); this tells the database to look for the words in a specific order.

"global warming"

2. Put the word AND between each new keyword or phrase; this tells the database to look for resources with ALL your keywords.

"global warming" AND atmosphere

3. Put the word OR between two or more keywords to find articles that use common synonyms for your topic. 

"global warming" OR "climate change"

4. Use an asterisk ( * ) to find multiple versions of one keyword.  For example, using pollut* as a search term will include results that refer to pollute, pollutes, polluted, polluting, and pollution.


Search Examples

image of this serach string in Proquest research library: ("global warming" OR "climate change") AND "alternative energy"


image of this search string in Opposing Viewpoints database: "global warming" OR "climate change"

image of this serch string in academic search complete: "global warming" OR "climate change" AND pollut*