Library:How to Find Articles/On a topic

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On a Topic

There are two basic ways to search for articles on a topic. Searching Summon is quick and easy but has a number of limitations. Searching within specific databases is more time consuming but is also more precise and comprehensive.

General Search (Summon)

Searching Summon is fast and easy but has some limitations. Summon contains content from hundreds of databases which means that it includes articles from most subject areas, however, Summon doesn't include everything so you may be missing out on some articles relevant to your research. Furthermore, Summon lacks many advanced search features that individual databases provide. If you need to do a comprehensive and precise search you should search in specific databases and indexes.

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To find articles in Summon, go to the General tab in the central search box on the UBC Library homepage, and enter your search terms.


To learn about searching in Summon, watch the following video:



Tips for Finding Articles
  1. When results display, use the "Refine your search" menu on the left of the screen to "Limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review."
  2. If you have too many results you can add a search term, for example: cooking and culture and mexico
  3. Not enough results? Try fewer or broader terms, for example: food and culture
  4. You can also put exact phrases in quotation marks so that Summon only retrieves articles where the terms occur together, for example: "Global warming"


Specific Search (Databases)

Searching one database at a time can be more time consuming but is also more precise and comprehensive. Some of the advantages of searching within databases include:

  • Databases usually only include content from a specific discipline (E.G. Psychology, Medicine) so you're less likely to get irrelevant results.
  • Databases usually let you search by more specific characteristics, such as journal name, age/sex/gender of subject, research methodology, geographical location of research subjects, etc.
  • The ability to do complex searches

Choosing a Database

To find a database in your subject area, search the Indexes & Databases portal or look at the Research Guide for your discipline or topic. Research guides are written by subject librarians to bring together the best sources on a subject in one place.

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To find the Research Guides go to the UBC Library homepage, choose Get Research Help. In the drop down list, select Research Guides.

Enter the general term for your subject, e.g. physics. You may retrieve more than one guide: choose the guide that seems best for your research, e.g. Engineering Physics

Once inside the research guide, look for a tab labeled Articles or Indexes and Databases or Getting Started. This will provide you with a list of databases you can search for subject specific articles.

To learn more about database searching, go to the Searching in Databases guide.

Full Text Online

  1. Look for terms like "Link to full text", HTML Full Text, PDF, UBC eLink, for example : Finding full text.png
  2. If you don't see a link to PDF or HTML, but there is a "UBC elink" button click on that to see if we have full text. If UBC Library subscribes to the online version of the journal, you'll see this:
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Click on the Article link to connect to the full text. Where no full text is available, click on Search UBC Library Catalogue to find items in print at UBC Library.

3. Try searching for the title of the article in Summon. If the title is generic you may have to put it in "quotations"


4. If you still can't find the full-text of the article, you can go to a library and ask for help or use our Interlibrary Loan Service to get the item from another library.