Skip to main content

ACMA01: Find Resources for your Final Essay

You must use 3 sources for your final essay. You may use encyclopedia entries, books, scholarly articles, or newspaper articles.

Scholarly Articles - FAQ

Why use scholarly articles?  

  • Scholarly journals are where academics present their research and debate on discipline-specific issues occur
  • Because scholarly journal articles are shorter and published more frequently than books, they can have more up to date information (but not up to the minute/day/month).

Why avoid scholarly articles?  

  • Journal articles are extremely specific, whereas books give a more general overview of a topic if you don't know much about it
  • If you're studying an extremely recent event, you may not be able to find anything about it in the scholarly literature because it takes some time for scholars to write about it

Example: you probably won't find much about a financial crisis that happened last month.

In this case, try researching related ideas, like similar financial crises that have occurred in the past, or relevant economic/political concepts that may have contributed to the crisis which might be discussed in the academic literature.

How do I choose a database?  

What discipline is most likely to discuss your topic?  Example: use a Literature database for a literary topic.

Do you think your topic is very multidisciplinary?  Not sure what discipline would talk about your area?  Try multidisciplinary databases.

Tip: No database has everything.  It's highly recommended that you always try at at least 2 or 3 databases. If you have any trouble, ask a librarian for advice on what databases to search.  

Write an Effective Search Statement

Follow these rules to create an effective search statement.  Database screens may look different but almost all of them are following the same rules: 

1.  AND:  Put 'AND' between different ideas.  This will help focus your search on relevant articles Example:  james joyce AND catholicism

2.  ( OR ):  Put ( OR ) between synonyms.  This will help expand your search.  Example:  james joyce and (catholicism OR religion)

3.  Truncation * (also called wildcard):  Use truncation (wildcard) * to expand your search.  Example:  catholic* will find catholic, catholics, catholicism 

Tip:  If you spell any of your search terms incorrectly, you won't get good results.  If you think you've written a great search, and you're not finding anything, google your search terms and make sure you've spelled them correctly.

Multidisciplinary Databases

If your topic is multidisciplinary or you aren't sure which discipline-specific databases to use, starting with a multidisciplinary database can be very helpful.

Art Databases

Literature Databases

History Databases

Political Science Databases

Sociology Databases

Find more Subject Specific Databases

More databases are available at Find the best research resources for your topic.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a useful tool which can help you expand your search.  It has a great deal more scholarly material than Google.  However, it is so big that it can often be overwhelming.