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Research Process: Choose Where to Search

Break your topic into keyterms; map terms to subject headings; use AND/OR to combine searches. Learn the difference between peer reviewed & scholarly sources.

Choose a database

Search the best database(s) for your particular topic

  • Search effectively by using databases' tools to help you (like subject headings and limits)
  • Searching across databases prohibits using these tools, making your search less effective

On the library homepage, the left side of the screen contains several Subjects. Select the one that corresponds to your area, and then select the link to your program guide. Your program guide will suggest a few databases to start with, based on your program.

Or, to see a full list of databases with descriptions of the subject matter included, click "Databases" from the library homepage.

For help navigating specific databases, see the Library Guides below:

Peer reviewed articles vs. scholarly sources

Peer Reviewed Articles

  • Peer review is a process in which a group of experts in the author's discipline reviews and evaluates an article to ensure quality. Typically, this process is double-blind, meaning neither the reviewers nor the author know each other's identities. This process thus involves a high level of rigor.
  • When you limit for peer reviewed in a database, you're typically actually limiting to peer reviewed journals. This means that you might also get reviews or letters to the editor that would also be included in peer reviewed journals. However, all the articles will be peer reviewed if you choose this limit.

Scholarly Sources

  • Intended for academic audience, usually within specific field
  • Authored by academics, specialists, or researchers in the field (not by journalists). Includes author's credentials
  • Bibliography and abstract are included
  • Research methodology is included
  • Tend to be longer than magazine articles

NOTE: Although the term peer reviewed & scholarly are often used interchangeably, some scholarly works are not peer reviewed (such as dissertations, books, and book chapters), but all peer reviewed articles are scholarly.