University Library at St. Cloud State University

Academic Research - Finding Resources

Searching for Academic Sources

To locate academic books, articles, films, and other resources, you must search one or more library databases. Some databases are general, allowing you to search for content on any topic, while others are subject-specific, allowing you to search for scholarly information within a particular discipline such as Mass Communications, Criminal Justice, Nursing, Sociology, etc.

Some of the general databases available from the Miller Center Library are:
  • Library catalog (MnPALS Plus): Includes all of the Library's physical items (books, movies, music, government publications) with some links to online sources
  • Academic Search Premier: Includes newspaper, magazine, and scholarly journal articles on all topics
  • Library Search: Search for articles and books across most of the Library's databases 
Useful definitions:
  • Database: A collection of pieces of information that is organized and used on a computer (Merriam-Webster).
  • Citation: A reference to a source used in research. Citations are found within library databases to point researchers to published works on a topic. They also occur within the text of your research paper as well as at the end in the form of a Works Cited page.
  • Bibliography: A list of resources that support and are as you complete a paper or project
Effective Research Strategies
Before searching the library databases, spend a few minutes brainstorming keywords and considering synonyms that describe the individual concepts within your topic. Developing a search strategy in this way can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your search results.

University of Rhode Island - University Libraries
How to Search a Database

UTC Library - The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
LibSearch and Databases
LibSearch provides a single search box that allows users to search for books, audio-visual materials, journal articles, and other resources contained in many of the Library's databases. Results are returned in a single, relevancy ranked list of resources that can be refined. See section below titled  “Using LibSearch”  for more information on conducting a successful search. LibSearch is St. Cloud State University's implementation of the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS).

LibSearch is one of several databases that provide general or subject-specific coverage of an academic discipline or subject area. The screenshot below highlights some of the features of Library Search.


LibSearch: Books, Articles, and More

Databases A-Z
An alphabetical list of all library databases, with the option to search by subject area.
Databases by Subject (choose a database to search for articles)
Select a general, broad subject area to identify a database to search for articles on your topic.
Research Guides (By Subject or Course Number)
Guides for doing research in a particular subject area (Art, Education, Social Work, etc.) or for a specific course.
Research Minutes: How to Read Citations

Cornell University Library
How to Read a Journal Article Citation
When searching databases you will encounter citations for the resources you find. Citations tell you the author(s) of a work, where it was published, and the year of publication. You need to use the citation information to prepare your Works Cited list. Below is an example of a citation in MLA format for an online journal article, found via the database, Academic Search Complete. Note the punctuation, capitalization, and formatting used.

MLA Citation
For more examples of citation format for different types of resources, visit the MLA Formatting and Style Guide from Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL).
We will learn more about MLA citation format in Module 6: Working with Academic Resources.

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