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High School to College Transition: Finding journal articles

Article Databases

Today, most academic libraries subscribe to hundreds of research databases, and will generally have a list of databases organized by subjects.

For example, here's the Vanderbilt Library's Find articles & databases page.

Is it a catalog or a database?

A library's catalog lists items it owns: books, journals, music scores, paintings, laptop computers, etc.

A database contains records, sometimes full-text articles, sometimes citations to articles. It is often subject specific and is usually produced by a third-party firm.

I've searched the database, now how do I read the articles?

Your search in an article database will usually return either a full-text article or a citation.


If your search results include links to full-text articles, you can print, email or download your article to a USB/flash drive. USB drive

Be aware that if you email your article, it may only send the citation and a link to the full text. When you click on the link from off-campus, you will probably get a log in screen that asks for your university account information.

Citation only:

If your search returns citations only, you may still find the article somewhere in the library. At some institutions, you may see a special button in your results you can click to link to the full-text of the article online.

Search Results

The next step would be to check the library catalog to find out if there is a print subscription to the journal. You will need to photocopy the article in this case. Most libraries  provide self-service photocopying where a library user pays to make the copies him/herself.

What if the library doesn't have the book or article I need to review?

Try Interlibrary Loan (ILL)!

Academic libraries can usually borrow items such as books and reprints, scores, proceedings, etc. from the circulating collections of other libraries.

Microforms, newspaper back files, dissertations, and government documents often are available, but may need special handling. Periodical volumes, reference books, rare or fragile items, videotapes, and very old or very new imprints cannot normally be borrowed.

Your library can also request copies of journal articles and many other items that cannot be borrowed. Photoduplication service is subject to copyright laws and guidelines for fair use of copyrighted materials.

Library Lingo

A brief description of a text (book, article, report, World Wide Web page, or other) that has been quoted, or used as a source.
A comprehensive collection of related data (articles or other materials) organized for convenient access, usually through a computer.
Refers to a database or other electronic resource which provides the entire text of the works it contains (e.g., journal articles), in addition to the citation and abstract of each work.
interlibrary loan
A library service whereby students, faculty, and staff may request to borrow materials from another library if the item is not owned by the UM libraries.
Film medium for storage of miniaturized text. Includes both microfiche and microfilm.
A publication distributed on a regular schedule (e.g., weekly or monthly). Popular periodicals are called magazines and scholarly periodicals are called journals. Newspapers are also periodicals.