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THEA 3700 Porterfield: Finding Articles

Finding Journal Articles

When searching for journal articles in VSU’s databases, here are some important strategies to keep in mind.


Use Keywords


  • Keywords help focus your search on what you’re looking for.
  • Instead of this phrasing: "What are some themes from the play Fences?”

Try:  "August Wilson" AND Fences AND themes"


Boolean Operators


  • There are three Boolean operators – AND, OR and NOT.



 Helps narrow your search. Take the example from above:


     August Wilson AND Fences


We tell the search to look for all articles that contain both of these phrases “August Wilson” AND “Fences”.




Helps broaden your search. We tell the search that we will accept both possibilities in our search results. Oftentimes, synonyms are linked using OR. 


Example: themes OR motifs




Can help make your search more precise. If a result that is different than what you intended keeps dominating your search results, you can use NOT to remove it.


Example: If you were interested in the play Fences but keep getting results about the movie:



"August Wilson" AND Fences NOT "Denzel Washington"




  • With each result page, there is a section on the right that gives you options to limit your results. You can select limiters like: 

  • Full Text
  • Peer-reviewed/scholarly*
  • A specific journal
  • Subject 
  • Location
  • Publication date


*When searching for journal articles, your sources are most likely required to be scholarly/peer reviewed/refereed. 




  • Try entering your search terms in quotations marks or parentheses. 


  • Quotation marks can help keep your search terms together.  

So instead of: August Wilson

Try: "August Wilson"


  • ​ Parentheses can be useful to build searches especially if one keyword has different terms that can be used to refer to it. Putting these terms in parentheses tells the search to look for all of these terms. This strategy can help you get more relevant results. 

Example: (themes OR motifs)

Once you have found an article, you will probably want to read it.  To access the article, you will look for symbols like these: 

HTML full text

PDF icon with PDF Full Text

Button with VSU Full Text

Click on the respective symbol to access the article. 

As a rule of thumb, avoid HTML Full Text when possible as it will resemble a web page and will not contain page numbers, making citing more difficult. PDF Full Text links you to a PDF copy of the article that you can then e-mail to yourself or download. If you see the VSU Full Text button, this indicates that there is an extra step to access the article. The article may be found in another database or resource or it might available through an Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Journals A-Z

If you have a citation and you would like to know if the library has access to the article, you can use Journals A-Z to find out.


Citation: Hyland, K. (2007). Applying a Gloss: Exemplifying and reformulating in academic discourse. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 266-285.


In the above example: Applied Linguistics is the title of the journal. 

You can access Journals A-Z from Odum Library's home page. 


1. Click on Journals A-Z.  


Screenshot of Library Homepage with Journals A to Z, the fifth option under Resources, circled in black.


2. Enter journal title in the Find e-Journal by Title search box and click Search. 

Example: Applied Linguistics. 


Screenshot of Searching Journals A-Z. Applied Linguistics is entered in search box


3. Find the corresponding journal title in the search results. Click on View Online. 


Applied Linguistics on Journals A to Z page. Clicking on Online Access expands to reveal more information about access and availability at Odum Library


4. Examine the information in the View Online tab. This shows the access that Odum Library has to the title in question. Some journal titles will be available from multiple sources but have different availability or access depending on the database or publisher.


Example: Applied Linguistics is available from Oxford University Press. Odum Library has access to journal articles between 1/1/1996 to Present. 


5. Click on the blue link after Full text available at:


6. In the database or on the publisher's website, use additional information from the citation (like author, year, article title, volume, issue, page number) to locate the article. 


Applied Linguistics journal page. The year 2007 has been selected from a drop down menu at the top. The second issue has been highlighted from a second drop down menu.




You can also use the journal title to search in the library's catalog for online access or physical copies of the journal.  If necessary, you can refine your results by selecting Journals under Format on the left hand side of the page.  


If the journal is available in print at Odum Library, you will see the "Available at" and the location of the item in the result list. If the journal is available electronically, you will see Online Access in the result list. 


Example: According to the image below, Odum Library only has access to this journal online. . 


Searching "Applied Linguistics" in the GIL-Find library catalog.

Print Journals

Print journals are located on the first floor of the library. They are arranged alphabetically by title (does not include the, an, a).


Journals A-Z

Allows you to search the library collection for specific journals by title. This is useful if your professor gives you a citation for an article you are supposed to read or if you find an article while searching Google Scholar you can search the library to see if we subscribe to the journal in which the article was printed. 


Searching within Journals

If we have access to an journal electronically, you may be able to perform a search within that specific journal. The process may vary depending on if we have access through a database or through the publisher of the journal. 


Do you have questions about searching within a specific journal?


We want to help: Contact the Reference Desk