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A Guide to Journal Articles

On a Topic

On a Topic

There are two approaches that you can take when searching for articles on a particular topic.

You can conduct a general search using our Discovery feature which will give you access to physical and online materials in all formats belonging to the Library's collection. Discovery is a fast way to look for resources but it is not comprehensive and you will need to search other resources to find relevant materials on your topic. 

You can also conduct a specific search by going into select databases. This search process may be more time consuming but it is much more precise and will result in you uncovering more relevant resources.

General Search (Discovery)

Using Discovery for your research is easy and convenient but it comes with some limitations. Discovery simultaneously searches McMaster's Library Catalogue and the contents of several subscription and open access databases which means that it will bring up articles from most subject areas but it is not a comprehensive search of everything that is available through the library so you may miss out on relevant resources found in databases.

Tips for Finding Articles
  1. Choose to refine your results to Articles & MoreFull Text and Peer Reviewed under Refine by on your results page.
  2. Select Academic Journals from under Format in the Refine by column.
  3. Add or remove search terms if your results are too broad or too narrow.
  4. Search for an "exact phrase" by putting quotation marks around it.

Specific Search (Databases)

Database searching may be more time consuming as you need to search in each database separately but it is a good research practice for coming up with more results. Some advantageous of database searching include:

  • Databases are usually discipline or subject specific so your results will be relevant to your topic.
  • Databases will allow you to perform more complex keyword searches.
  • Databases will usually have an extensive selection of limiters that you can use to modify your search.

Choosing a database

To find a database in your subject area search the Databases page by subject to view all relevant resources. Select the information graphic next to the database name in order to see a description of the database. We recommend selecting at least 3 separate databases for your research as each database will have different journals and articles in its collection.