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.
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.
Identify Your Keywords
Select the most important 2-3 keywords. These are terms related to your topic. For instance, let's say your essay is about Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Your keywords could be:
Plato, Allegory of the Cave
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.
"Allegory of the Cave"
2. Put the word AND between each new keyword or phrase; this tells the database to look for resources with ALL your keywords.
"Allegory of the Cave" AND Plato
3. Put the word OR between two or more keywords to find articles that use common synonyms for your topic.
"Allegory of the Cave" OR "parable of the cave" OR "Plato's cave"
4. Use an asterisk ( * ) to find multiple versions of one keyword. For example, using philosoph* as a search term will include results that refer to philosophy, philosophies, philosopher, philosophers, philosophical, etc.