Journal articles are a key source of material for PhD students. Don’t know where to begin when searching for journal articles? Looking for more effective search methods? In this guide Helen Yendall explains the most effective ways of locating relevant articles.

periodicals area

Finding articles through the Library website

As a member of the Library, you can access Warwick Library’s databases and on-line journals using the library search engine. Select your subject from the drop down menu.

Here you’ll get access to:

  • Subject-specific databases
  • Useful, high-quality websites
  • Many electronic journal articles (via different databases)
  • Registration for off-campus access

Accessing full-text articles
All databases will have citation information about articles (eg: author, title, journal, date) but not all databases contain the full text of an article. Bear in mind that Warwick may not subscribe to every journal within a database.

Many databases use WebBridge, a service which can search automatically for Warwick access to the full text of a journal. Click on the WebBridge logo and your computer will search the Library’s subscriptions and give you a link, if available.

If a database does not use WebBridge, you’ll need to record the details of the article you want to see (most databases will have a “mark” feature that allows you to do this online).

Some useful databases
Web of Science  despite its name, also covers Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Unlike other databases, Web of Science is a citation database, which means it records the number of citations of an article, which can be a marker of the article’s importance or quality.

Web of Science includes:

  • citations and references used by the author when writing the article
  • how often – and by whom – an article has been cited
  • cross-referencing of articles

Google Scholar can also be a useful tool for finding academic-quality journal articles on the web. Tip: set the preferences to pick up on University of Warwick subscriptions.

One of the weaknesses of Google Scholar is the lack of information about selection and editorial policies but it’s useful for half-remembered citations.

Open Access specialist search engines like the BASE search engine will find content that Google Scholar does not index.

Getting help with database searching

Get in touch with the relevant Academic Support Librarian for your subject. Details can be found here. You can email, telephone or meet face-to-face with them to discuss any questions.

The Academic Support Librarians are experts on literature searching. They can advise you on the best ways to search, how to get the most out of the databases and how to find full-text articles – which will ultimately save you time and effort.

If Warwick doesn’t subscribe to the journal you need, just complete a document supply request form to have a copy sent to you.

If you need several off-site articles, you may find it easiest to visit a library that has them. But be aware that other libraries’ licences may not permit them to share their electronic journal access. Phone to check before you visit.

You can see more information on visiting other libraries, including the SCONUL access scheme here.

Logging in and registering for databases

If you’re at a campus computer you will generally be able to use databases without any further steps – you can usually even access them by searching on Google.

If you’re off-campus you will need to go through the library website to access the database. Click on the database, and you will be taken to a page asking you to log in. Look for a ‘sign in as an Athens user’ link, then click ‘Go to University of Warwick login page’, then enter your university username/password. You can see further advice about off-campus access here.

Some databases allow you to register or create a personal account, which can store your search histories and selected articles. They may also offer a facility for setting up alerts for any new content relevant to your topic.

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