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Psychology 101: Finding Journal Articles

Using Articles

Articles may offer information on one particular aspect of psychology, one breakthrough in the treatment of a mental disorder, the latest on scholarly research or studies, as well as news in the field of psychology. Articles appear in popular magazines, newspapers, and scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. Be sure to follow your instructor's requirements for the type of articles you are allowed to use.

Finding Articles in Library Databases

Library databases contain millions of articles from popular magazines, scholarly journals, and news sources. The following library databases are good resources for psychology-related articles and journals.

  • Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection - (EBSCO) Be sure to click the "peer-reviewed" or "academic journals' checkbox to limit your search to scholarly articles only.
  • Academic Search Complete - (EBSCO) Click the "scholarly (peer reviewed) journals" or "academic journals" checkbox to limit your results to journal articles.
  • EBSCO Collection of Databases - Expand your search to over 20 EBSCO databases at once. Remember to limit your results to academic journals if needed.
  • JSTOR - This collection contains only scholarly journals.

Database Searching

Database Search Tips

Once you select a database, conduct a search using the keywords you identified for your topic.

  • Use the wildcard character * to truncate the main stem of a word to find different versions: pollut* finds pollution, pollute, polluted 
  • Place quotation marks around words you want to search as a phrase: “air pollution” ; “eating disorders” ; “social media” 
  • Brainstorm for words with similar meanings: youth, adolescents, teens, teenagers, “young adults” 
  • Select full-text, scholarly, academic, or peer-reviewed options, if needed. 
  • Browse your results to see if your keywords retrieved articles that appear related to your topic.  
  • Scan the titles and subjects used in articles you like and revise your search using some of the new words you found.  
  • Look for options to narrow your results. In EBSCO databases, browse the "Refine Results" section on the left.
  • Click on titles that look promising and read the abstract or summary. 
  • When you find an article you want to use, look for tools that will allow you to e-mail, print, save, and copy the citation for the article. In EBSCO, the Tools menu is on the right, in other databases the options may be at the top of the page.

Tip! E-mail articles to yourself along with their citations so you don’t lose them. Remember to check computer-generated citations carefully to be sure they are correct!

Google Scholar

Google Scholar indexes the full text of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. It does not always give you full access to an article, but you can use the citation to search for the full article in the library databases.

Google Scholar Search

What's the difference between scholarly and popular sources?

Your instructor said that you cannot use the Internet to find sources for your paper. Instead, you have to use "scholarly journals" and other academic resources from the library. So what does that mean?

Scholarly journals are published by universities, societies, or associations of specialized fields. Articles are written by scholars in that field who present the results of original research and experimentation or provide technical or professional information. They go through a peer-review evaluation process before being published. Peer-reviewed articles are reviewed by other scholars in the same field who provide feedback about the article's quality, accuracy, relevance to scholarship in the field, validity of research methodology and procedures, and more.

Ready to start searching for scholarly journal articles? You will find them in our EBSCO and JSTOR databases. Connect to those through the Popular Databases link on the library homepage.

What is a Scholarly "Peer Reviewed" Journal?

Scholarly journal images

  • Focused on a particular field of study
  • Based on original research or experimentation
  • Written by scholars or experts in a particular field
  • Read by professionals, students or educators in the subject area
  • Use scholarly, technical, research-oriented language
  • Include references, bibliographies or footnotes
  • Contain little or no advertising

Popular Magazines

Popular magazine images

  • General interest stories or entertainment information
  • Based on fact-finding and/or opinion
  • Written by staff writers or journalists
  • Read by the general public
  • Easy to understand language
  • Usually do not include references
  • Contain lots of colorful advertising