Subject Guides

Finding Periodicals & Periodical Articles

This guide illustrates how to find periodical information at the Salmon Library.

What are periodicals and why should I use them?
What are databases and why should I use them?
How can I find an appropriate database to use?
What if I still can’t decide which database to use?
How do I actually use a database?
Where are the periodicals located?
What if I already know the name of the journal I need or have the complete article citation?
What if the library doesn’t have the periodical I need?
Is it a scholarly journal or not?
What information will I need for my reference list?

What are periodicals and why should I use them?

Periodicals are continuous publications such as journals, newspapers, or magazines. They are issued regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly). Why are periodicals so important in research? Read on!

•They provide the most current information on a subject
•They help to identify very "new" or "hot" topics of interest that may not be found in books
•The findings may be limited to a specific concept
•Older issues may help to provide historical information on the topic

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What are databases and why should I use them?

A library database is a collection of organized information, typically electronic, which you can use to search and retrieve data records such as journal citations. Databases can be used to search the contents of periodical articles. Almost all databases are now online; in the past, print periodical indexes were used for this function.

Use a database when:
•You don’t have a citation to a specific article
•You want to find articles on a subject
•You want to find articles by a specific author
•You want to find an article with a known article title

Note that the Library Catalog does include records for all the periodicals which are received by the Salmon Library, but it does not include information on the articles within those periodicals.

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How can I find an appropriate database to use?


Choosing the right database is important because publishers specifically construct most of their databases for various subjects. Librarians can help you select the database that best answers your research question. Visit our Online Databases page to locate databases both Alphabetically and by Subject. You can read a brief description of each database by clicking on the word “About”.

If you are looking for newspaper articles, please visit our Newspaper Resources page.

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What if I still can't decide which database to use?

The Salmon Library provides access to premium content from over 300 different databases. If you are not sure where to look, this can be a bit overwhelming! SuperSearch, our federated search tool, allows the user to query up to 15 different databases with just one search. An example of such a multiple search is Google, but unlike Google, searching with Super Search results in only academic results. Select one of the main folders to search all the databases listed for a particular subject, or select the databases of your choice.

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How do I actually use a database?

Typically, you can search a database by specific fields such as author, title, subject, or abstract, in addition to a keyword search, which usually searches all fields in the database. Before beginning your search, it is helpful to break down your topic into key concepts and identify a number of different terms to use. For more information about this, as well as how to set up a search using Boolean operators such as AND, OR, and NOT, visit our guide to “The Search Strategy”.

Different databases offer different searching features. Most databases have Help menus which will assist you with formulating your search and explain the different features available. If there is a database which you anticipate using a lot, it is worth spending some time to get the know the details of the search interface and read the Help menus.

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Where are the periodicals located?

Most periodicals owned by the Salmon Library are online! Many databases offer not only an abstract of the article, but also full-text (html) or page image (pdf). In many cases, when you search the database, the full-text option will automatically appear – there will not be a separate step required to find the article. If the full-text option does not appear, try the “Find it in the Library” link for more options.

After accessing the article full-text, there are usually a few options:
• Email the article to yourself or someone else
• Download the article and save it to disk
• Print the article. Copying and printing at the Salmon Library costs $.10 per page black & white, $1.00 per page for color. Bring small bills for payment, or use your University flex account.

Remote (off-campus) access to library databases is offered to all current UAH faculty, staff, and students. You will be prompted for your last name and Banner ID number (sometimes SSN for faculty/staff) to access these resources.

If the UAH Library JournalFinder indicates “Salmon Library (print only)”, then the library owns a print copy of the periodical. Click this link to determine the years of holdings. All periodicals are shelved alphabetically by title and most are located on the first floor in N1. Periodicals that begin with an abbreviation are shelved at the beginning of that letter. For example, JOM (Journal of Metals) is shelved at the beginning of the J's, not under Journal.

Older Periodicals: are generally bound and have volume numbers on the spine.
Current Periodicals: are shelved at the end of the periodical run and are usually loose issues.
MicroFilm: is shelved in cabinets along the west wall of N1. Once you have retrieved the reel you need, take it to the reader adjacent to the Circulation Desk. If you need assistance loading the microfilm, ask for help at the Circulation Desk.

If you determined the library has a print copy of the journal and you can't find it on the shelf, then review the following:

• Another student may be using the periodical or has used it and has placed it on a table. Check around the copiers in N1 and also the one near the reference desk.
• Double check the catalog to make sure it wasn't on microfilm.
• Double check the catalog to make sure the library's collection doesn't stop on a certain year. Some print subscriptions have been cancelled.
• If all else fails, ask the reference librarian!

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What if I already know the name of the journal I need or have the complete article citation?

When you do have the citation or reference to a periodical article--if you know at least the title of the periodical and the issue date of the article you want--you can use the UAH Library JournalFinder. This will identify whether or not the library owns the journal and the format - online or print. You can also use the links at the bottom of the JournalFinder page to browse all journals Alphabetically or by Subject.

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What if the library doesn’t have the periodical I need?

You may want to check the websites of other local libraries, such as the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library or Alabama A&M University, to see if they own the periodical. Alternatively, you can search the WorldCat database to find out which libraries in the U.S. and even the world own the periodical.

If it is not available at another nearby library, check with the reference librarian about interlibrary loan possibilities. It usually takes two weeks to receive interlibrary loan materials. Visit our ILL page for more information about this service.

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Is it a scholarly journal or not?

Students frequently want to know whether the periodical in which they have located an article is scholarly or popular (general). There are no hard-and-fast rules for making a decision because many periodicals have both scholarly and popular elements. Ultimately you have to become familiar with the publications in a particular subject area and learn to make critical evaluations of each article. However, take a look at the Salmon Library guide "Is It a Scholarly Journal or Not?" for more tips.

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What information will I need for my reference list?

It is important to write down or print out the complete citation for your reference list (bibliography):

• title of the article
• author(s)
• journal name
• date
• journal volume, issue number
• page numbers

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04-Jan-2006 Last Revision