Skip to Main Content

The Research Process

Quick Tip

Only finding one article relevant to your topic with your search string? Look at the articles literature review or bibliography/reference, to see if any of their sources relate to your research.

If you are searching with SUMMON (the library's default search tool), some articles will include an AltMetric note (on the right-side of the record) that can lead to more information on newer articles, papers, and websites that have cited the article. Looking through work that has cited an article you find interesting may also lead to other useful sources on your research.

When to Use an Article

Articles are found within periodicals, which can be searched using the library's databases. Periodicals refer to magazines, journals, and newspapers because they are issued on a regular or "periodic" basis–-they might arrive daily, weekly, monthly, four times a year (quarterly), once a year (annually), or anything in between. Periodicals are usually separated into two major groups: popular and scholarly.

 Use popular magazines or newspapers when you need:

  • up-to-date information about current international, national, and local events
  • general articles by people who are not necessarily specialists about the topic
  • information or opinions about popular culture

Use scholarly journals (also called academic or scientific journals) when you need:

  • original, primary research on a specific topic
  • articles and essays written by scholars or subject experts
  • factual, documented information to reinforce a position
  • bibliographies that point you to other relevant research  

Periodicals will include the most current information on a topic, as newspapers, popular magazines, and scholarly journals often publish information concerning recent events and research from within a timely period. However, databases will contain articles from many years past, so be sure to limit your search to within the last few years for the most current information on your topic.

Library Databases

Search the library databases to find different types of articles.

You may start your search using a general database, such as Academic Search Premier, or browse databases by topic, to find one with articles relating to your field of study.

Databases can often contain more than just articles, so be sure to limit your search to the type of source you are looking for.


Can't find the full text of a specific article you are looking for? Request an article using Interlibrary Loan and have it in just a few!

Types of Articles

Scholarly (Journal) Article

A scholarly article will be published within an academic journal and concern research or another issue within a specific field of study by an expert or contributor to the field.

Currency: Current within a few months to a few years of publication. Check references used to gauge whether information may be outdated.

Scope: Fairly narrow topic or subject that falls within journal's scope.

Type of information: Written with a specific academic audience in mind.

Popular (Magazine) Article

A popular article will be published within a magazine or trade journal and concern news and commentary surrounding a topic of interenst or conversation happening within a field or culture. Popular articles are written for a general audience by journalists who do not necessarily specialize within the field or culture being discussed. 

Currency: Within a few weeks or few months of publication (however, most popular articles cover research or conversations already being discussed within academic journals).

Scope: Brief overview of topic of interest or conversation.

Type of information: Unspecialized. Commentary or discussion of a topic written for a general audience.

News Articles

An article published within a newspaper, popular magazine, or trade journal that provides initial information or updates on an event within the publication's scope.

Currency: Within the day of publication. Check for updates in the weeks after initial publication.

Scope: Revolves around the scope of the publication and specific event.

Type of information: Objective reporting of an event or updates on an event.

Editorial or Commentary

A brief essay expressing clearly and unequivocally, and sometimes with artful persuasiveness, the opinion or position of an editor, contributor, or reader of a newspaper or magazine with respect to a current political, social, cultural, or professional issue.

Currency: Within the day of publication. May be updated.

Scope: Usually concerns specific topic of interest or event.

Type of information: Opinion--should not be used in research as a cited source.