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Introduction to Research: Finding Articles

This is a brief introduction to research in the Library, how to decide on a research topic, how to find relevant materials and how to cite them.

When to Use Periodicals

Periodical articles are helpful when:

  • The topic is very recent.  Articles are written and published quickly, often within 24 hours.  Example: Information about an earthquake that happened last night.
  • You have a fairly narrow topic. Example: If you are writing on the Northridge Earthquake, you will find many articles on this specific earthquake.

Periodical articles may not be as helpful when:

  • You need a broad overview of a topic.  Example: Earthquakes.

Scholarly/Academic Journal Articles

Scholarly Journals

  • written by experts and scholars in their particular fields
  • may be approved for publication by experts and scholars (referred/peer-reviewed)
  • latest research on your topic
  • lengthy and in depth
  • include charts, graphs, and long bibliographies      
  • use specialized language and jargon

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Library Databases

The SMC Library subscribes to a variety of information resources which include content from journals, magazines, newspapers, reference works and other materials.  You can acccess this material from on campus or at home. Here are lists of the databases in our collection.

Finding Articles

Finding Articles in Magazines, Journals and Newspapers 

To find periodical articles on your topic, the Library has a number of electronic databases which include full-text articles. These databases are available to you from the Library home page at: Find Articles in Journals, Newspapers & Magazines

If you are off campus, you will be prompted to logon using your SMC network username and password. 


Periodicals include magazines, scholarly journals and newspapers and are published at regular intervals, such as weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Magazines tend to be popular periodicals aimed at the general public, and usually do not offer an in-depth analysis of the topic.  Magazines are excellent sources for current events and a summary of a topic, yet magazines generally do not provide in-depth analysis of a subject.

Journals are periodicals that contain articles usually written for, and by, scholars and professionals in a specific subject area, such as medicine, law, literature, and music.  The main purpose of scholarly journals is to report on original research or experimentation.  Scholarly articles are the more appropriate choice for researchers who need analysis and review of the literature and the topic.

Newspapers are usually published every day or every week and contain the news of the day, commentary, feature articles and advertising.  Newspapers are good sources to consult for very recent events and for local area news.