Skip to Main Content
UNH Library home

CEPS Innovation Scholars pages (UNH Durham): Find Articles

Shared strategies for finding & using information on your project topics.

Strategy & Choosing a Database


Use your topic!  write it down and think of  find alternative words (synonyms).  If you have a hypothesis, you have already selected some terms to express it.  To find alternative words, look for background in books, including encyclopedias.  You can find the library books and encyclopedias by using the "Classic Catalog" or  our online search box (with the online search box, put in a search word, and then limit your results to "Library Catalog" (on the left side of the result page).   It often helps to use broader terms when you search for books, because books may cover broader topics than most magazine or journal articles do.

Whatever resource you are searching is a tool made with software that has a limited "understanding" of the amazing ways that we naturally use language.  To be successful, your search strategy needs to match the database!

For example, you might ordinarily say, "I'd like to know how an LED light compares with a compact fluorescent."  Databases will look for matches -- so "like" could be as important as "LED." In research databases, select the important concepts and connect them logically; many databases include AND or OR to connect the search boxes. Use relevant synonyms for your nouns (drone OR AUV OR "aerial unmanned vehicle") and use "quotation marks" to set off a phrase. You might even want to use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard at the end of a word, like photosynth* to search for any of these words: photosynthesis, photosynthesize, photosynthetic. 

Examples for your research might be, if you use a multiple box search:



3D print*

In this example, the *asterisk* allows any ending (results can include print, printer, printers, printing).

Think about confirmation bias?  If your search terms indicate a certain point of view, you will generally find matching results!  To get more representative results, do several searches with different language and draw from all of the results.  

You should try choosing a database instead of the central search box if you would like more depth and/or specificity.  The combined search box hits on the catalog and many databases, but does not include some major subject-oriented resources. Use the Library's Databases for more specific subject areas, and the Classic Catalog for broader-level searching of books (and other material). 

You can search in a more structured way with these databases, often getting more precise results.  These databases also cover a great deal of specialized information that Google does not cover.

The hand-out linked above is a good overview of these concepts!

Find Journals

Journal titles can be searched in the UNH Catalog to determine what years are available at UNH, or you can browse the list of UNH fulltext online journals.  In the following citation, which is the journal title?  Hint: it's in italics.  Some citation styles indicate the journal title in boldface.

Camenzuli, Danielle, AND Freidman, Benjamin. "On-site and in situ remediation technologies applicable to petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated sites in the Antarctic and Arctic" Polar Research [Online], Volume 34(7 September 2015)

To find out if a journal is "peer-reviewed", use Ulrichsweb, an international directory of periodicals. Look for the Peer Review Symbol symbol next to the journal title.  That indicates that the journal has peer-reviewed, also called "refereed", articles.

NOTE:  Pieces in a peer-reviewed journal may not all be peer-reviewed!  Editorials, for example, are not peer-reviewed.  Peer-reviewed articles are normally scholarly.  If you are not sure, check Ulrichsweb, and if the journal is peer-reviewed, check for a bibliography or reference list at the end of the article.  No bibliography? Not scholarly! Thus, not peer-reviewed!

If there is a journal abbreviation you don't understand, ask a librarian or check the list of Science and Engineering Journal Abbreviations.

What is Peer Review?

Refereed journals

 In the referee process (also called peer review):

  1. Researcher submits manuscript for publication to the journal editor
  2. Editor sends a copy to one or two anonymous reviewers (referees)
  3. Reviewers, who are peers (researchers in the same field), evaluate it and make recommendations
  4. Editor notifies author if accepted, accepted with changes, or rejected
  5. If the article is accepted with changes, it is the author's choice whether to make the changes or submit to another journal. 

 This process provides quality control by peer review.

Search for Articles --Sample searches

Try these techniques and click below to see what happens in the model search:

  1. Use the strategies above to select words plus synonyms and to choose databases
  2. Employ "Advanced Search" with extra search boxes that let you combine concepts with AND or OR. You can also add quotation marks to set off phrases in many databases.  Click here to see an example.
  3. You can use an asterisk (*) to stand for any ending, but Proquest and Ebsco search engines include plurals automatically, so the asterisk was not used in the example linked above.
  4. When you find a good article in a database, use the subject terms and keywords to develop your search further.  Also, check the article's bibliography for more related articles.

Sample database:  ASFA: Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts: this database has a thesaurus so you can check for the exact subject terms that are used in it.    MODEL IN ACTION:  CLICK to see this search

Sample databases: Greenfile and Environment Complete (Ebsco): MODEL IN ACTION: CLICK to see this search

          5.  After you search, save the citations and get the articles!  If there is a "Full Text" or "Check For Full Text" button, use that to check for access through the UNH Library.  If there is online access, you will see a button for the article.  If there isn't, you can use the Title and ISSN searches on the page to automatically check the library's print collection!  If the Library does not have it, use the InterLibrary Loan (ILL) link.  It will put the article info into a form to request a scan of the article.  The first time you do this, you'll be prompted to add contact info to your new ILL account.  After that, you just log in with your UNH ID.

6.  To capture the articles' citation info, save, export, or email citations from databases or from the article home page.  You can use bibliographic management software to organize and to re-format your citations for papers you are writing into the desired citation style (see the "Save & Cite" tab). 

Specialized databases of potential interest

Using InterLibrary Loan to Get Article Scans

If the location of a journal in the Library Catalog is Storage Per Request Item, that means the volume is not in a public area, but you can request it online.  Here are the instructions.   To get the original print journal volume, use the Request icon on the top toolbar of the catalog and the volume will be brought to Dimond Library for you; you'll get email when it is available.

 If the UNH Library does not have the article you need, we can get it for you.  There is no charge.  The Check for Fulltext page provides a link to InterLibrary Loan so that you can order the article conveniently.  The citation information goes into the form automatically, but check that it has transferred correctly and completely. Usually, the link to the scanned article is available within a couple of days, but do allow time for this.

If you have not used ILL before, log in with your UNH User ID and password (your MyCourses ID) and fill out the registration.

Click for more info on getting material from other libraries