Quick guide to finding journal articles
DISCOVER@BradfordCollege is our online search tool and is a quick and easy way to search the College Library’s resources, print and electronic, and find full text information.
DISCOVER is a bit like using Google but the results are higher quality and more relevant to your course at Bradford College. If you are looking for information for an assignment DISCOVER is a great place to start.
To find journal articles, you need to use a library database. Databases are like search engines, but instead of searching the Internet, they search the contents of journals, books, reports, newspapers or magazines. The library pays to provide access to special academic databases that will provide you with content which has been evaluated and checked to ensure that the materials you find are of high quality. Once you get used to searching databases, you can save a lot of time because a lot of the work has been done for you!
Different databases provide access to different types of information. Discover searches across most of our databases at the same time so is good for an initial search. You can also search databases individually - this can be useful to refine your search. We recommend the databases listed in the right hand column to find journal articles for Early Years.
If you are researching a particular topic, the best way to find journal articles or newspaper reports is to use a database such as Discover. Think carefully about your topic and identify the keywords that best describe the information you need. See the tab on Search Tips for more information on constructing a search strategy.
There are thousands of journal articles in the databases so you need to be specific - for example a search for "child development" will bring too many articles for you to properly look through.
These 5 steps will help you to plan your search strategy when looking for information to support your assignment.
Step 1: Identify the main ideas or concepts in your assignment.
Evaluate the role of outdoor play in child development.
Concepts: Play AND child or children AND development
Step 2: Identify keywords. You can direct library databases to look for your keywords in the title, abstract, keywords and subject headings of an article, which means that your results are more relevant than if you were searching for your terms anywhere in the full text. To get the best results, you need to find the best terms possible. Spend a bit of time identifying synonyms or related terms that best describe the topic. Also think about what the question is asking - are there any key theories or problems that the question is alluding to?
The PICO method can be useful to help you think of appropriate terms to search:
P is for Patient or Population, eg children.
I is for Intervention, eg. outdoor play
C is if you want to compare with another approach, eg indoor play. This is optional as it can really widen your search.
O is for Outcome, eg. child development.
Synonyms / Related Terms: Child could also be Children, and possibly pre-school. Outdoor play could be widened to risky play, outdoor games, nature play.
Step 3: Decide which database to use. If you want to find academic journal articles, we recommend that you start by using Discover which searches across the majority of library databases. If you wish to find specialist information such as systematic reviews, government papers, or practice notes, try one of the practitioner databases such as CC Inform, Childlink or Social Care Online.
Step 4: Use the Advanced Search function. This allows you to put a keyword or a string of keywords on each line and then combine your terms. You should be prepared to run your search a few times to get the best results. Use speech marks to search for a phrase, and use the asterix symbol to find words with a variety of endings (therap* will find Therapy or Therapist).
"Outdoor play" OR "Risky play" OR "Outdoor games"
"Child development" OR "child adjustment".
Step 5: Check your results. If you have too many results, narrow by adding more search terms to focus your search, or restrict your results by date, publication type (journal, newspaper). You should also look at the subject terms that are used to describe the best results, and re-run your search using those terms.
Remember - you can save your search if you set up an account with the database, or keep a note of your terms. You can also view your search history and combine different searches until you get the best results.
If you want to browse a specific journal, eg. one that you have seen referred to in a textbook or by your lecturer, you should first check on the Library Catalogue to see if the Library takes it in print. Print Journals are shelved in the journals section in the Library. If we do not subscribe to the journal in print, use the A-Z of Journal Titles. This will allow you to access the full text of over 20,000 journals in electronic format. Some are electronic versions of journals that are held in print in the Library. Some are journals that the Library does not have in our print collection, but which are made available as part of a database collection - Emerald, Computer Source, SPORTDiscus, General OneFile and Lexis Library for example.
Type in the title of your journal and click on search. You will see a list of matching titles. Click on Full-text Access and click on the database name that is listed. From here you should be able to browse different issues and search by keyword.
Before searching, think about:
Be prepared to read around your subject. You may not find an article which directly answers your assignment question, but instead you will need to synthesis information from a variety of sources. For example, you may find material on customer behaviour in a different setting to the one you are researching, but the argument and findings can be applied to your own topic.
Use the contents pages and indexes in textbooks to look up company names, theories or concepts. Don't just rely on your reading list - there is a lot of information out there!
Refer to the reading lists in books and journal articles, or use the related articles and cited by functions in Emerald and Google Scholar to widen your reading.
How do you evaluate what articles are most appropriate for your research? Use the CRAAP test to help you assess each article:
When was the article published? Does it matter for your topic?
Are there more recent articles you could use?
Does the information help in answering your question?
Is it at the right level? Is it too basic or too advanced?
Does it add to your understanding?
Does the author work for a particular organisation such as a University?
Is the author appropriately qualified to provide the information?
Has the information been peer-reviewed? If an article has been peer reviewed it will have been evaluated or edited by other experts in the same field.
Where does the information come from?
Is it supported by evidence?
Can you verify the information from another source?
What is the purpose or reason of the article?
Is the article objective? Does it give a balanced view? Is there hidden bias? Does the author use emotive language?
Has the author provided supporting evidence?
Does the article include references?
Google Scholar is a free resource that you can use to find scholarly literature, online reports and other academic and professional information. It includes freely available information that is not included in your library databases, such as reports from professional organsations. However, much of the scholarly information will not be available in full text, so you should use it alongside the databases to access the full article.
Bradford College Library has worked with Google Scholar to allow you to link through to full text articles that we provide access to straight from your Google Scholar results. To set up the full text links:
When you open up Google Scholar, you will see alongside some of your results the words 'Full Text Available'. Click on the link. You may see a page saying 'If the page does not display, then open the page in a new window'. Click on this link to view your article.