Monday, December 8, 2008

Why you can't find any articles about your topic

Have you ever chosen a topic, only to find that there are practically NO academic journal articles about it? Why is that? It could be a couple of things-

Is it something that *just* happened? Academic journal articles take a while to write, be reviewed, and then get published. Some academic journals come out a few times a year. If you are looking for something very recent, you'll need to look in newspapers or maybe magazine articles for more information.

Are you looking for the history or background on something? Academic journal articles tend to be on specific topics- answering a question rather than explaining what something is. If you topic is the history of gangsters in America, you will need to look for a book instead.

BUT... try to think of a question about that topic. Try "How did prohibition affect gangster activity?" Pick the keywords from that question "prohibition" and "gangsters" and put each word in a different box on the Advanced Search screen.

Are you looking in the right database? The databases have different focuses. Are you looking for something on football? Try the General (InfoTrac) OneFile database. Information on recycling? GreenFILE is a great place to start. A hot topic like abortion? Try Opposing Viewpoints first.
Have you asked the librarian for help? We want to help you- that is why we're here! Just because you can't find something doesn't mean it's a lost cause. Stop by, call, email or IM and ask!

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