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Research Guides

Getting Started

Articles published in scholarly journals serve as an important communication tool for many academic disciplines by  providing in-depth analysis and discussion of specific research problems. The UW Libraries subscribes to numerous databases that allow access to the contents of thousands of these journals. Some databases contain full-text content for articles while others can link to full-text.

The nuts and bolts for searching most databases is pretty much the same; the key is to construct efficient searches.

  • Formulate your topic - what concept or concepts are you looking for?
  • Come up with some keywords
  • Use a subject specific database
  • Look at the search results - too many? Narrow the search. Not enough? Broaden the search

Sample search strategy

Find papers on the foraging or feeding behavior of mule deer.

Three concepts to this search:

  1. behavior - that's a good keyword, but use truncation. Enter the stem of the word with an asterisk (*) at the end to find variant endings: behavior* finds behavior, behaviors, behaviorial, etc.

  2. feeding/foraging  - use truncation again and the word or between the terms: feed* or forag*   'Or' is used to combine synonomous terms

  3. mule deer - use the common name and the scienctific name and use quote marks to get an exact phrase: "mule deer" or "odocoileus hemionus" (or is used again to combine synonomous terms)

    If you get too many results, most databases have ways to limit search results, for example, by language or publication year.

Which database do I use?

Use the Find Articles tab on this page to see suggested databases for biology.

Is this article online?

Use this purple button     to check if an article is available online. You'll see this button is databases like BIOSIS, Web of Science, Academic Search Complete and even Google Scholar.

How do I find out if the article I need is online?

thumbnail of known citation video Determine if the article you need is available to you online through our Electronic Journals web page. | Time - 01:35 | Transcript | Play Video

How do I use Google Scholar to search for UW materials?

thumbnail of Google Scholar video Use Google Scholar to search specifically for materials held by the University of Washington. | Time - 01:38 | Transcript | Play Video