Preparing to Use a Database: What Do You Need to Find?

One of the main tasks that you will do within library databases is find articles, often scholarly journal articles. Fortunately, many library databases  include filters that limit your results to just scholarly journal articles. This is especially helpful when using the big aggregator search tools from EBSCO, ProQuest, and Gale. But there are often other considerations to take into account when finding resources. As a reminder, always check your assignment requirements and ask yourself these questions:

Assignment Guiding Questions

  1. How many resources am I required to find?
  2. What types of resources am I required to find?
  3. Are there any types of resources that I am not allowed to use?
  4. Is there a requirement related to the publication date of the resources?
  5. Are there any other requirements that might be helpful to remember (due dates, citation styles, etc.)?

Let’s look at our scenario for this chapter to answer these questions:

Your English professor has assigned the class an argumentative essay. Your assigned topic for the essay is artificial intelligence. You are required to find evidence to support your argument from scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, and books.You have to cite at least seven sources, at least one of each type, and you also have the option to use a video for one of your sources. Your professor states that she doesn’t want you to use websites for your essay; you must use library databases and format your citations according to MLA.

According to the Scenario, we can answer the guiding questions as follows:

Answers to Assignment Guiding Questions

  1. Seven resources.
  2. At least one scholarly journal article, one magazine article, one newspaper article, and one book. That’s only four out of the seven. You must find more of those resources to equal seven, and you can also use videos. All resources must come from library databases.
  3. You can’t use websites.
  4. No publication date restrictions were provided.
  5. MLA citation style must be used.

Having this information outlined for yourself will help you stay focused as you search through the library databases. After identifying some keywords to seek resources related to your topic, you can then use filters to limit your results to specific resource types (depending on the library database you are using). You should also be able to limit to a publication date when necessary.


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Introduction to College Research Copyright © by Walter D. Butler; Aloha Sargent; and Kelsey Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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