How do you find print journal articles?

Note: Our new search engine Summon does not search our print journal collection.  While this might seem convenient, it does mean that you are missing out on a considerable amount of useful content.  Make sure to supplement your Summon research with a traditional database (where applicalbe) to make sure you have well-rounded results.

Sometimes you’ll come across a journal article that is only available in print, and not online.  (Try following the steps in the full-text journal articles blog post to see if your research is available online or in print).  This happens when something was published before the internet was invented (really).

The catalogue record for print journals will look like one of the following examples:

1. This journal (College and Research Libraries News) is only available in print at Western.  How you know is that there is no “click here for online access” link included at the top of the page:

2. Let’s say we’re looking for an article from the Journal of Nutrition Education and it was published in 1995.  You’ll notice from the catalogue record that this journal is available online through ProQuest, Scholars Portal, and EbscoHost, but not before 1997.

Underneath the database links, the record lists the library locations that carry this journal in print.  The first example also did this.  In our Journal of Nutrition Education example, you’ll see that Brescia (BRES), Education (EDU), the ARCC or Archives (ARCC), and Taylor (TAY) carry this journal in print, although not always for the same length of time. Note: if you see a library that you’re not familiar with – i.e. “ARCC” – click on the name of the library for more information.

If our made-up journal article was published in 1995, which library do we need to visit to find it in print?  Look at the dates underneath each library to find this information: it looks like Brescia is the only library that subscribed to this journal in 1995.

Your next step is to write down the call number of the journal above the name of the library you need to visit (in this case QP141.A1J86n). Make sure to also write down the volume, issue, and page number that your article is found in.  The author’s name and the title aren’t a bad idea, either.

When you have this information, head off to the library (although, with the Journal of Nutrition Education, you might already be in Brescia) – you will need to photocopy your article (sorry!!!).  Each library has a periodicals section where you can find print journals, which will be organized by call number.

Usually, entire volumes (i.e. every issue that comes in for a year) will be bound together so they look like a big book.  While I don’t have a picture of Brescia’s periodicals section, Google images produced a good example of what bound journals look like:

This is why it is important to have the volume, issue, and page number of your article: within each of these “book” looking things will include multiple issues of a journal, where sometimes page numbers start over again.  For example: imagine we put a whole bunch of issues of Macleans magazine together in a bound volume like you see above – it would be important to know which year, month and page number you’re looking for so you don’t have to flip through every “book.”

Periodicals cannot be signed out of the library, so it’s up to you what you do next.  You can definitely photocopy your article, or you can read in the library for as long as you like.

Good luck on your print journal adventures!

Presearch: what to do before you research

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of material available on your topic.  Another common problem is not have any relevant search results come up.

Both of these issues can be solved by a little pre-planning, or what I like to call “presearch.”  You’ll often come back to this step as you go through the research process.

  1. What questions do you have?
    Make a list of the questions you need to answer before you can write your assignment.  In the beginning, you’ll find this information in the assignment instructor your professor provided.  Later, your questions will likely develop after doing some reading.
  2. What information do you need?
    After figuring out what questions you need to answer, ask yourself: what information would help you answer these questions?  Before you start researching, this could include definitions of words in your assignment topic.  As you prepare to write your assignment, you might need to find some more specific examples in order to support your argument better.
  3. Where will you find this information?
    Knowing where to find different kinds of information takes practice.  If you’re totally unsure, don’t hesitate to ask a library staff person.  But here are some examples to get you started:

    • Definitions: check your textbook, encyclopedias on your topic, or dictionaries
    • Background information: again, check your textbook, check encyclopedias, or check general books on your topic
    • General information: for summaries on your topic and that kind of thing, check books and literature reviews (a type of journal article)
    • Specific information/current research: check journal articles.  Books would work, too.

    Other resource types you can consider, especially when rounding out your argument include: primary sources (i.e. newspaper articles, interviews, speeches, letters); reliable websites; and government information.

  4. What keywords can you come up with to describe your topic?
    Come up with a list of words and synonyms for those words, to type into Summon, or into subject databases and the library catalogue while you research.  Don’t forget: computers aren’t very smart and can’t predict your topic.  It’s really important, then, to type in exactly what you’re looking for – otherwise you’ll be likely to get garbage results.  (See “Keywords” blog post for more help with this).
  5. If you’re doing journal research, did Summon find enough good content? If not, what databases should you try?
    Again, this takes practice, but the library staff has helped with this task.  Check the Program Guide webpages on Western Libraries’ website or a list of databases on different subjects (i.e. Sociology, Foods and Nutrition, Religious Studies, Biology, etc).

Taking a few minutes to do some planning will honestly save you time in the long run.  Organizing your research before you start also helps to avoid confusion – and point out where you may have gone astray.