Articles in periodical publications are excellent sources of information.
The term “periodicals” includes:
- journals, which are academic in nature and will normally be your most appropriate periodical sources for college level research
- popular magazines, which can be worth consulting for some purposes
- newspapers, which are frequently worth consulting
To find periodical articles on your topic, begin with an article database. Often the database will supply you with the full text of articles. If not, you may need to locate the actual print periodical in the library. But first, be aware that the process of finding articles involves three steps:
- Choose one or more appropriate databases.
- Search those databases using appropriate search strategies. (link to section below)
- Read and evaluate the articles. (link to section below)
Step 1: Choose an Appropriate Article Database
An appropriate database is one that indexes periodicals likely to carry articles on your subject. A good one to start with for most topics is the general, interdisciplinary database entitled Academic OneFile, which can be found via the Database Finder. This database indexes more than 1500 scholarly, trade, and general interest periodicals, including the leading journals of the various academic disciplines, along with national news and commentary. Its coverage, from 1980 to current, is updated daily. Over half the articles are full text.
Periodical databases targeted to specific subject fields are suggested in subject-based research guides. In some cases, a subject-specific database will be the best starting point for a research project, and frequently it will prove an important second or third source for finding articles. Also, full-text newspaper databases like LexisNexis, the Boston Globe and the New York Times are good sources to consult.
If you know the name of a database appropriate for your purpose, you can easily find and access it in our Database Finder.
To search several databases simultaneously, which you may find an efficient way to start, try Database MultiSearch.
Step 2: Search the database(s), using recommended techniques explained in Basic Search Tips.
Most databases belong to families, each with their own look and feel. For search guidelines arranged by database family, see Database Searching Tips
Step 3: Locate and read the articles. As you do, evaluate (link to below) them for their relevance.
To locate articles:
- If your article has a full text link, click on it.
- If not, does your article have a link? If so, click on it. This will lead you to either full text of your article, to the Tufts library catalog, or to ILLiad in order to make an interlibrary loan request.
- If there is no full text link in the window, select the Tufts library catalog link. You will either see a full text link, holdings for a print subscription, or no information.
- If you see holdings for a print subscription, see the Locating Periodicals section below.
- If you see no information, search the Electronic Journals list by periodical title.
- If you have not found the periodical you need, request it via ILLiad. NOTE: The most efficient way to do this is through the window, because the ILLiad request will be automatically populated with the data needed to process your request.
If your article does not have a link, search the Tufts library catalog by the title of the periodical and follow the pertinent directions above.
When you find a periodical in the Tufts library catalog, make sure the issue you need is held within our subscription. Note the call number and match the beginning of your call number with the chart below.
|Tisch Bound Periodicals Stacks
Level 2: for call numbers A-BF1
Level 1: for call numbers BF1-PZ
Level G: for call numbers Q-Z, also all Oversized
Tisch Current Periodicals
Level 2 (alphabetic by title)
Level 2 (by Micro Range number)
Evaluating Periodical Articles
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Is the article sufficiently up-to-date for my purpose? For example, if it is a scientific article, will it incorporate the latest findings?
- Is it from a scholarly journal (sometimes called a “peer-reviewed” or “refereed” journal) and so reviewed by experts and accepted by a knowledgeable editor for publication? Even so, be aware that journals can accept articles that will provoke controversy about issues not finally decided.
- If not, is it published in a magazine with a reputation for publishing substantive, in-depth journalism, such as Harpers, the New Yorker, etc.?
- Is it published by a periodical known for having a certain political slant? If so, you will need to take that slant into consideration.
- If it is published in a popular magazine, do you have a reason for needing a popular take on your topic?