Library:Module 4 - Finding Articles

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Module 4 Objectives

In this module you will learn the following:

  1. Identifying the features of a journal article citation.
  2. Locating a journal article by topic and title using Summon, the General Search at UBC Library.
  3. Limiting your results in Summon.
  4. Identifying subject specific databases using Research Guides.

This module will take no more than 20 minutes to complete.

Failure to close the box before opening the next section may require you to scroll up to locate the beginning of the section.


4.1 Reading a Journal Article Citation

Journal Articles

At first glance, journal article citations can look very similar to book chapter citations. In particular, journal article citations also contain two titles: the title of the article and the title of the journal. However, different publication information is given for a journal article.

For example, the table below shows a sample citation in MLA and APA style, and the kind of information it displays:

Citation Elements Item Details Sample Citations
Author(s) Haas, Heather A. MLA Style:

Haas, Heather A. “The Wisdom of Wizards—and Muggles and Squibs: Proverb Use in the World of Harry Potter.” Journal of American Folklore 124.492 (2011): 29-54. Print.

Article Title The Wisdom of Wizards—and Muggles and Squibs: Proverb Use in the World of Harry Potter
Journal Title Journal of American Folklore
Volume Number 124 APA Style:

Haas, H. A. (2011). The wisdom of wizards—and muggles and squibs: Proverb use in the world of Harry Potter. Journal of American Folklore, 124(492), 29-54.

Issue Number 492
Year of Publication 2011
Page Numbers 29-54
Medium of Publication Print

Distinguishing Features

  • The citation includes two titles: the title of the individual article and the title of the journal in which it is published
  • No place of publication or publisher's name is given
  • Instead, the citation specifies the exact volume and issue of the journal that is being referenced

Test Your Knowledge

In this citation for a journal article, what is the journal title:

Slayton, Rebecca. ”Speaking as Scientists: Computer Professionals in the Star Wars Debate.” History & Technology (2003): 99:4, 335-64. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

  1. History & Technology
  2. Speaking as Scientists
  3. Computer Professionals in the Star Wars Debate

4.2 Locating a Journal Article by Topic Using Summon

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.

Alt text
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"

Test Your Knowledge

Which of the following searches in Summon would be the most successful if you were looking for information on climate control and the oil sands in Alberta.

  1. climate control “oil sands” Alberta
  2. “climate control” “oil sands” Alberta
  3. “oil sands” Alberta
  4. oil sands climate Alberta

4.3 Locating a Journal Article by Title Using Summon

Sometimes in your research you will come across an article that you would like to locate in the library. If you have the article citation it is simple to use Summon to find the article by title.

Let’s look at our previous journal article citation example:

Slayton, Rebecca. Speaking as Scientists: Computer Professionals in the Star Wars Debate. History & Technology, 2003, Vol. 99:4, p. 335

To search for this specific article in Summon, we need to first identify the article title and the last name of the author:

Slayton, Rebecca. Speaking as Scientists: Computer Professionals in the Star Wars Debate. History & Technology, 2003, Vol. 99:4, p. 335

Sometimes article titles are very similar and it is difficult to find the exact article you are looking for by a specific author. To deal with this problem, search for the author’s last name and the title of the article:

slayton “speaking as scientists”

Searching for the author and title in Summon will likely provide you with the article you are searching for at the top of the results list.


Things to Note
  1. We left out the remaining article title after the colon (i.e. Computer Professionals in the Star Wars Debate). Often you will not need to use the full title to find the article. Additionally punctuation marks, such as colons, periods, semicolons, and quotes, confuse Summon when you are searching. Leave punctuation out of your title search.
  2. We are not using capital letters. Capital letters are not important in your search. You can either choose to use capitals or not.
  3. We are using quotation marks around the title (i.e. “speaking as scientists”). Quotation marks will instruct Summon to search for the words in between the quotations as a phrase. This is important to remember. If you searched without the quotation marks, Summon would search for each word separately. This will give you far too many search results to look through to find your article.

Test Your Knowledge

To locate the following article, what would you search for in Summon?

Slayton, Rebecca. Speaking as Scientists: Computer Professionals in the Star Wars Debate. History & Technology, 2003, Vol. 99:4, p. 335

  1. Slayton “History & Technology”
  2. “Speaking as Scientists ”
  3. Computer Professionals in the Star Wars Debate
  4. Slayton “Speaking as Scientists”

4.4 Finding a Subject Specific Database

While Summon is an excellent source to find articles it sometimes can be daunting. Summon is similar to a Google search as it searches across almost all the material in UBC Library. This can provide you with far too much information. What if you are interested in a topic but only from a political science perspective? A Summon search will provide you with articles from all disciplines including political science. To narrow out journal articles that are created in a specific discipline, we need to use subject specific databases located in the Research Guides.

Under the “Articles” tab of a Research Guide you will find subject specific databases. For example, here are the core databases for Anthropology resources. You can select a title of a database and be brought to additional information . The "About" section of the Database & Index page provides a description of what the database contains. It’s important to read this information so you know you are searching for material in the right place.


Select the database title to get more information about the database.


To learn about locating subject databases on the library website, watch the following video:


Test Your Knowledge

To identify a subject specific database for the topic of Canadian history, which research guide would you use?

  1. History
  2. Canadia Studies
  3. English
  4. 1 and 2
  5. All of the Above