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LIB 100: Academic Research and Information Issues

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Scholarly articles are often referred to as peer-reviewed articles. Some characteristics of scholarly articles are:

  • Written by and for experts in the field such as academics/professors, doctors, scientific/social science researchers
  • Narrow in focus on a particular topic or scholarly conversation
  • Peer-reviewed, or checked for quality, before publication
  • Include extensive references cited

Useful Databases for Finding Scholarly Articles:

ProQuest Central

ProQuest is a general database, including materials on all major subject areas. 

Academic Search Premier

Academic Search Premier is also a general database, making it a great place to start searching for scholarly articles.

Subject-specific databases

You can also locate more specialized databases by subject at the list linked above.

ZSR Library provides access to both print books and eBooks. Like scholarly journal articles, scholarly books are written by experts in the field and focused on a particular topic. As you search for scholarly books, here are some things you may want to be aware of.

  • Some scholarly books are actually edited collections on a topic and contain chapters by different authors.
  • Scholarly books are not typically as up-to-date as the latest scholarly articles.
  • Textbooks are considered reference materials because they are more general and summative.

Find Scholarly Books

ZSR Discovery Catalog (Primo)

The ZSR Discovery Catalog is the best place to find scholarly books through the library. Limit your search to "Library Catalog" for results that the library has access to.

Google Books

Google Books is an excellent index of books on the open web. Full text is available for some of the books.

In addition to scholarly sources, ZSR Library provides access to popular and trade sources including newspapers and magazines. Below are some recommended databases for locating popular and trade sources. 


Newspaper Source Plus (EBSCO)

This database provides access to current news from publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, and the London Times

ProQuest Recent Newspapers

Recent Newspapers also provides access to major newspapers, with coverage up to three months ago.

ProQuest International Newsstream

International Newsstream houses a collection of current news from outside of the United States.

Magazines & Trade Publications

ProQuest Central 

The Advanced Search feature in ProQuest Central allows users to limit results by source type, including Magazines, Newspapers, and Trade Journals.

Open web searching is so ubiquitous that we use the term "Google" as both a noun and a verb. Finding information on the web has tremendous benefits as well as some pitfalls. Here are some things to be aware of when searching for research materials on the open web.

Google Scholar 

Google Scholar is an open-web index where you can find scholarly materials like articles, books, and conference proceedings. This is not the resource to use if you're looking for websites or popular sources like news or magazine articles. You may be able to locate the full text for some materials in Google Scholar, but you can also use it to locate records for materials which you can then access through ZSR Library. 

Open Access Journals

Some scholars choose to publish their research in open-access journals which can be read online for free. The link above is to the Directory of Open Access Journals, where you can search for open, peer-reviewed (scholarly) journals and articles.

Advanced Searching in Google & Current Google Search Operators

Many people don't know that Google offers an advanced searching feature, which allows searchers to limit or expand their searches to find the right material. You can also type in search operators directly into the main Google search bar to better locate the material you're searching for. 

   Boolean       Google Advanced Search   Google Operators
AND All these words: Google automatically treats a search as AND
OR Any of these words: Type in OR between terms
NOT None of these words:   Put a minus sign (-) next to words you don't want  


Library databases are pretty great for providing access to materials, but not so great at deciphering natural language. Typing in your research question likely won't yield any search results. Instead, you'll need to develop search strings with a mixture of keywords and Boolean operators.


If your research question was "How has tourism impacted the physical and cultural sustainability of Venice?" the keywords would be tourism, sustainability, and Venice.

It's always a good idea to come up with synonyms of your keywords that you can use in searches. Building on the example above, here are some synonyms that could be useful when conducting a search:









             sea level               

     sustainable tourism       

        carbon footprint              




Boolean Operators

Boolean operators including AND, OR, and NOT (in all capital letters) can be used to expand or limit your search results by including or excluding additional keywords.

  • AND narrows your search because it requires the search results to contain all your keywords
    • Ex. "gestational diabetes" AND diet
  • OR broadens your search because it will retrieve any search results with your keywords. This is a good operator to include when you want to search for materials with synonyms.
    • Ex. teenagers OR adolescents 
  • NOT narrows your search because it eliminates a keyword from your search results
    • Ex. Washington NOT D.C. 

Source Management Tools

  Zotero is a free program that allows users to save, organize, and cite research materials. 

  Zoterobib is the commitment-free sibling to the full Zotero program. Users can generate citations without installing the complete Zotero suite.


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