You Can Find Five Articles on Anything: A Tutorial

So, you have an assignment that involves doing some basic research on a topic. It might be politics in Patagonia, or elbow surgery for baseball players, or the works of William Carlos Williams, or the relationship between strength and corrosion in aluminum.

Your first instinct may be to reach for Google or another web search engine. But...
  1. Your professor says he/she wants articles as resources, and
  2. You've been burnt by bad information on the web before. (Ok, you never tried to book a tropical vacation to Minnesota, but you know people who have.) With your grade riding on it, you can't afford to use bogus information.

Libraries to the Rescue!

As it turns out, the library has a bunch of article sources you can access (and probably even print out) without even leaving your dorm room. If you are using MyLibrary in the Portal, you can check out the Research Databases channel. Or surf on over to the Library Database Finder page:

Which Database?

Now what? Well, there are two databases that are beacons for the quick researcher:

Both of them are indexes of journal and magazine articles, so they point to information that's more acceptable to your professor and more reliable than the average website. Furthermore, they include full text of many of the articles, and many others can be accessed by clicking the SFX/Lehigh Links icon.

Try Academic Index:

When you click on Academic Index, Expanded, choose the database Expanded Academic ASAP.

There's some search boxes to fill in. You can put different 'keywords' in each box, and the software will use "AND" to join them. You do need to separate keywords, or it will try to treat them as a single phrase "elderly pets" as opposed to eldery AND pets.  You can also just type in your search terms with AND between them.

If you don't find the kind of results you want on the first try, you can try changing your search terms. For instance, if you are searching for Politics AND Patagonia, and don't find anything on Patagonia, try Argentina (since Patagonia is in Argentina); if you don't find anything on Politics, try Political or Government.

Using Subject Search Terms

You can find an article that looks good, and scroll down to look in the Subject Headings, then click on them to find more articles.

Getting Full text

But how do we get the full text of the articles?

Look for and click on the links: Text or PDF under the title of the journal. That will pull up the text in plain text (to print the article, click the Print button on the left side of the screen to display it without the sidebars), or as a PDF image of the printed page (use the Acrobat viewer's print button to print).

But what if the full text isn't there?

The entry will say Citation or Abstract. Click on the article title to look at the full record, and then scroll downward.  Look for the SFX button, under Library Holdings. Clicking the SFX button , brings up a new window; if there is full text available you'll see "Full text available via ..." and clicking on that link will take you to the full text resource.

If it's not electronic full text?

Click on the ASA, the University's Library Catalog link to see if we have the journal in print, and find out what location and call number it's under.

Using Research Library

Ok, now try Research Library, which you also get to from Research Databases channel in MyLibrary, or the Databases listing page. Again, searching for multiple terms together requires stringing them together with AND.

So, if you're looking for corrosion of aluminum, specifically with reference to strength, string those terms together with an AND between each, to find articles that talk about aluminum AND corrosion AND strength.

At the top of the results screen, Research Library displays 'Suggested Topics' which are ways of changing and broadening your search. If you didn't get what you want, you may click on one of the Suggested Topics, or go back to the search and type in different phrases.

Some of them have icons for Full Text or Text + Graphics--if it says only Full Text, you won't see the pictures. You can click on those icons, or on Page Image-PDF .

But what if the item is not in the database full text? Click on Find a Copy and get the citation, then click on the SFX link to find out whether we have the full text electronically elsewhere-- or in print.

Tips and Tricks:

  • When in doubt, look for the SFX link or logo to see if something is available online.
  • PDF vs Text/HTML? PDF is a document format that allows you to print out the page just as it appeared in the original journal or magazine-- but it takes longer to print than HTML and can run into problems. Text/HTML loads and prints faster, but the images and page numbers are likely to be missing or re-arranged.
  • Use Subject Headings to get more citations
  • Stringing terms together with AND gets you items with both terms.
  • For older materials (before 1985) use Reader's Guide Retrospective.
  • Looking for business materials? Go into the Databases Selected link in Research Library, and add the ABI-Inform database.
  • Looking for newspapers only? Try Lexis/Nexis Academic
  • To find indexes that cover specific topics, sign in to MyLibrary on the Lehigh Portal and see the Research Databases channel, or use the List By Topic feature of the Database Finder,