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Online Library Orientation: Finding Articles

What is a periodical?

A periodical is a magazine, journal, newspaper or other item that is published on a regularly scheduled basis. A periodical can be electronic or in print.  Martin Community College Library subscribes to around 30 print periodicals and has electronic access to thousands more. 

What is a scholarly journal?

Your instructor may ask you to include articles from scholarly or academic journals in your research.  Scholarly journals, also called academic journals, are different from popular magazines in that they are about a particular field of study and contain articles written by scholars or experts in that field. Some features of scholarly journals include:

  • Long, substantive articles
  • Citations of sources (such as footnotes and references) for each article
  • Authors with degrees or credentials in the field of study
  • Articles containing vocabulary from the field that the general public might not be familiar with
  • Many scholarly journals undergo a peer review process which means that other specialists or scholars evaluate the quality of the author's research before the article is published


What is a database?

You might think that finding an article about your topic by searching through back issues of print periodicals would be difficult and you would be right! Fortunately we have databases to help us search electronically and also to provide many more periodicals than those we have in print!  A database is simply a collection of items stored electronically.  Items could include articles, videos, audio files, pictures or ebooks. Some advantages of databases are that they are:

  • added to constantly so they are more up to date than print books
  • searchable electronically 
  • more reliable than web sites because you can limit your search to scholarly sources and recent research
  • available whether the library is open or not
  • hosted by reputable scholarly publishers
  • much larger than the print collection any library could possibly have