Finding a Research Article



Finding a Research Article

Who Should Accomplish This Challenge

People who want or need to be able to locate recent and relevant work in their field.


A key part of graduate school is learning what is known about a field and how that knowledge was produced. Being able to find and recognize peer-reviewed publications is an important skill. As it turns out, finding a relavent research article is difficult for those new to a domain. Expect this challenge to take some time.

Note: If you are a doctoral student you should almost certainly start using a citation manager and add every article you read, or think you should, to your database when you read it (or decide that you think you should).

You might check out my FAQ about How to Tell if a Journal is Bogus.

What to Do

Use your library’s search engine (e.g., Southalabama OneSearch or Scopus for your search. (If you use SCOPUS, you will need to adjust the instructions somewhat, as these directions were written for OneSearch.) For example, you might be interested in uses of Twitter, and search for “twitter.” This will yield many hits. You should use all of these methods to limit your number of hits:

  1. only peer-reviewed journals
  • only academic journals
  • only relavent databases (e.g., ScienceDirect, JSTOR, ERIC, PsychArticles)
  • only the last 5 years (keep current!)
  • fully text (no point in finding things you cannot read for this challenge) full-text
  • only languages that you are fluent in

After you have made those limitations, you can add other search terms to further limit your search. Some OneSearch pages include a “share” pull-down that will allow you to get a “permalink” for your search that you can save and use later (or share with others).

Here are two examples of such links:

Here you can see a screenshot of a search with the URL that will generate it.

Check that all of your links do what you expect in a Chrome Incognito Window.

You should continue to refine your search until it includes 200 or fewer articles.

What to Look For

Unless you are familiar with a field, you cannot know what it is that you might look for. One good way is to browse through the tables of contents of a few journals that might be of interest. For example, you might check out these:

Another place to look for ideas for things to search for is by looking through the topics of the textbook.

After you have

tl;dr: Journal titles and volume numbers should be italicized.

Evidence of Completion

Reply-as-linked-topic to this post, put it in the appropriate “completions” category, include “finding-research” as a tag, and include the following in your post:

  1. A 50-200 word learning narrative of how you solved this challenge
  2. A screenshot of your search showing the search terms and number of hits (<200) and, if possible, a permalink to your search
  • A summary of the article you found (about 300 words)
  • A response to the article describing how you might use it
  • An APA citation for the article, including a DOI if at all possible. An EBSCO “permalink” is a less desirable alternative.