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EMPOWER: Finding Articles: Home

Finding Articles

This module covers how to use electronic databases to identify articles on a subject.

When you have completed this module of EMPOWER, you will be able to:

  • distinguish between popular and scholarly periodicals 
  • choose a database appropriate to your need
  • use the different functions of electronic databases
  • find full text and print articles 


Magazines and journals are called periodicals because they are issued on a regular or "periodic" basis. Periodicals are usually separated into two major groups: popular magazines and scholarly journals.

Once you are able to recognize the differences between a popular and scholarly source, you can focus your research to retrieve only the type of articles you need.

Popular Magazines

Rolling Stone cover

  • Magazines are usually published once per month, or once per week.
  • Articles are usually short and cover a wide range of topics.  Research and current issues are broadly summarized.
  • Magazines are written in non-technical language and can be understood by the general public.
  • They contain many photographs and advertisements.
  • Other examples:
    • Sports Illustrated
    • Discover
    • Time
    • Entertainment Weekly


Scholarly Journals

Journal of American History

  • Journals are usually published on a quarterly or monthly basis.
  • Articles are long and very in-depth. They cover case studies, report research, and contain bibliographies.
  • Journals are geared toward scholars, researchers, or professionals.
  • They contain very few photographs or advertisements.
  • Journals are usually sponsored by an academic or professional organization.
  • Other examples:
    • American Journal of Nursing
    • Science Education
    • Review of International Studies

Where Will I Find the Periodicals I Need?

Don't worry! You won't have to look through each issue of each periodical on your topic.

The Oscar Rennebohm Library subscribes to many article databases. The database you select will depend on your topic.

Databases quickly scan thousands of periodical article records that match your search terms.