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W.I. Dykes Library


Finding Articles

The library provides access to more than 53,000 journals, magazines, and newspapers. Most are available online in the library's electronic collections. Some can be found in the Periodicals Collection on 5th Floor North. There are two ways to find articles in these publications: (1) if you know the exact name of the journal, magazine, or newspaper you need, start with the List of Journals to find options for locating that particular publication; (2) to search for articles by subject or author, start with the Databases & Articles section of this website. Use these resources to search thousands of different publications at one time.

The library has many different electronic databases, each of which indexes a set of magazine, newspaper, or journal articles, usually grouped by subject.  Many databases will offer the full text of articles, meaning you can read an entire article on a computer.  Others will offer citations to articles, which you can use to find the articles within journals or magazines the library owns. From the library home page, click on Databases & Articles. Choose Databases by Subject to see a list of databases that cover articles in that field.  Or, if you know the name of the database you’d like to use, click on Databases A-Z to find it by name. Each database covers a different set of publications, so you may need to search for your topic in several databases to find all of the information you need.

Composing Your Search

Think of the questions that you need to answer with your search. Identify the most important words or concepts from your questions. Then think of other words that mean the same thing, or are about related topics.  These are your keywords.  For example, if you were researching drug testing of Olympic athletes your keywords might be:

  • Olympic
  • Olympic games
  • Olympics
  • Drug
  • Drugs
  • Steroids
  • Performance enhancing drugs

Type a keyword or set of keywords into the search boxes provided by the database.  Do not worry about capitalization.  Do not include articles or prepositions (like a, an, the, with, in, on… ) because the database will ignore them anyway.

Many databases will have options in drop-down boxes or check boxes which will let you search for your keywords within the subject, title, or author of an articleIf you search by keyword the database will look for your search terms anywhere in the author, title, or subject of the article. 

There may be a box labeled Full Text.  Checking that box will find only the articles which you will be able to read from your computer.

Databases have many other helpful features.  If you would like someone to show them to you come to the library Information Desk and a librarian will be happy to work with you.

Reading Articles

Click on the Search button to get your list of results.

Most databases will give you more information about an article when you click on its title.  You will usually see an abstract, which summarizes what the article is about. 

If you see an article you would like to read, and there is a link that says Full text, PDF, HTML Full Text or PDF Full Text, clicking on that link will give you the article.  You may then save, print, or email the article.

If there is no full text link, click on the link that says Find This Article.  That will search the library catalog to see whether UHD subscribes to the relevant journal.  If we do, there will either be a link to the full text of the article, or an indication that we subscribe to the article in print.  You may then find the journal on the shelves of Periodicals, which are shelved alphabetically by the title of the journal.

Refining Your Search

If your search did not give you a set of articles that are useful to you, you can refine your search to find what you need. 

Some databases will suggest related subjects, in a column titled Narrow Results By.  If a subject listed in this column will be useful to you click on it, and the database will run your search again for both your original search terms, and the subject term you clicked on.  This will help to narrow the focus of your search.

You may want to try different searches using different keywords.  Try thinking in larger terms (Sports instead of tennis) or narrower terms (athletic training instead of just training). 


Whenever you have a question about library research, ask a librarian!  Call the library reference desk at (713)221-8187 or click on the Ask a Librarian link on the library website to send us an email.  We are here to help you find the answers you need! 



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W.I. Dykes Library • University of Houston-Downtown
One Main Street • Houston, Texas 77002
Information 713-221-8187 • Circulation 713-221-8186


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Last updated or reviewed on 7/24/12

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