Skip to Main Content

Conducting Research

Tips from your Washington University librarians on locating, evaluating, and citing sources used in your research.

What are periodicals?

Periodicals are publications such as journals, newspapers, or magazines that are published regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly). 

The Classic Catalog includes records for all the periodicals to which we subscribe.

Using databases to locate articles

Once you have a good handle on your research subject and are comfortable with the amount of background information you have, you can begin to search the library databases for current articles and other materials related to your research.

A library database is a searchable electronic index of periodicals and other materials.

Electronic databases make it easy to find scholarly articles or to find articles written within a specific time period.


Image source:
DATABASE at Postmasters, March 2009/
mandiberg / CC BY-SA 2.0

Steps for searching databases

--Start generally. Begin your search using a multidisciplinary database such as Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, Project Muse, Scopus, or Web of Science.

--Improve your keyword search. For example: If you are researching the current designs of hybrid vehicles, be sure to combine terms such as "design AND hybrid vehicles".  For more tips on developing search terms in library databases see the "Testing your Topic" box in Step 1: Exploring an idea.

--Search subject-specific databases. In addition to having many general/multidisciplinary databases, WULibraries also provides access to hundreds of subject specific databases. Simply select the subject of your research area from the box Find Databases by Subject.

--Obtaining an article. Depending upon the database, full-text may not be immediately available. Always first look for a link to the full-text of an article (typically you will see a pdf or html link).  If this is not available, look for the  button. Additional details on using the Get it! button.