Skip to Main Content

Library FAQ: Find Academic Journal Articles

A hub for frequently asked questions regarding Academy of Art University Library resources.

How do I find academic journal articles?

The EBSCO databases are a great place to start. They are linked on our A-Z Database page.

You can also get to this page from the Online Articles & Databases link under “Getting Started” on the library homepage.

JSTOR and Avery Index are also great databases, depending on your research questions (relating to Art History, Architecture, and more).

Keep in mind: The search box at the top of the page searches in the library catalog only, not in any of our online resources. You need to access the database from the AAU Library website to ensure that you are accessing it for free as a current AAU student.

If you are having trouble accessing these resources off-campus, please see the Library Login Issues FAQ.

Return to Top

Why are there four EBSCO links? What’s the difference between them?

Each database has a specific purpose. When researching, it is sometimes easier to narrow your search by first choosing the appropriate database that is related to your question. For example:

Academic Search Premier is a great first database to use when you want multidisciplinary academic research articles that go beyond art and design related topics.  

Art and Architecture Source has articles, book chapters, and magazines on a wide variety of art and design related topics.

Omnifile Full Text Select has magazines and articles on a wide range of subjects, including materials that are not available in Academic Search Premier and Art and Architecture Source.

The first link in the list, EBSCO - Search Academic Search Premier, Art Source, & Omnifile, allows you to search in all three databases at the same time.  

Keep in mind: You can also switch the databases that you are searching in by clicking on the “Choose databases” link located above the main EBSCO search box.

Clicking on this will bring up a new window with checkboxes for you to choose which databases to search in.

Return to Top

How come I can’t read the article that I found in EBSCO?

You can only read something from EBSCO if there are links for HTML Full Text and PDF Full Text. Results that do not have these links are not available in our EBSCO subscription access. Our subscription tier gives us access to a good number of articles, but only references for others. (Think of this like how Netflix, Hulu, and other popular streaming subscription services have their own exclusive shows. You can’t watch Netflix originals on Hulu and vice versa.)

To make sure that you can access and read all your results, look to the Refine Results sidebar on the left of the search result screen and check the Full Text box under Limit To.

There are also other filters that you can try adjusting as well, such as the publication date and the checkbox for “Scholarly (Peer reviewed) journals,” which ensures academic content in your results. Filtering in this way also cuts down on your total number of search results.

Return to Top

How do I download something that I found in EBSCO?

In an EBSCO item record, on the right under Tools, there are options to save the article by printing or emailing it to yourself. ("Save" only saves the detailed record of the article, not the article itself.) You can download the article as a PDF after you click on PDF Full Text or the Download PDF button on the top left corner of the screen.

Return to Top

How do I cite something from EBSCO?

EBSCO has a built-in citation generator. You can get the generated citation by clicking on the Cite button on the Tools sidebar on the right.

Keep in mind that the citation is not always formatted correctly. You may want to compare what you get here to the AAU Library MLA Citation GuideThis page also has two videos on how to make in-text citations and a works cited list. There is also the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) and the Ask the MLA FAQ to assist you with citation formatting. Purdue OWL also has samples for other common citation styles, APA and Chicago style. AAU students can consult the Writing Lab or the Library for any citation related questions.

Return to Top

How do I know if what I found is useful?

An article appearing on the first page of results says nothing about its quality or credibility. You need to assess how useful an article is in relation to your research question. And consider other factors behind the writing and publishing of that article.

Librarians at California State University Chico came up with CRAAP to help students evaluate sources. CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. You can see more about CRAAP and other useful source evaluation information on the Research Process: A Step-by-Step Guide.

Additional note: Please read the article that you found before attempting to use it in your work.

Many results in EBSCO have an “abstract,” the summary of the article. Abstracts can help you understand what an article is about before actually reading the full work. Occasionally, you may find non-academic content (e.g., book or product reviews) or results that only contain the article’s abstract, not the article itself. Reviews and abstracts are not substitutes for citations of academic writing, so keep this in mind as you find sources for your academic work.

Return to Top

Advanced search considerations

You may not always find what you are looking for with the words that you are using. There are different ways to refer to the same thing or idea. It is important then to consider using synonyms or related terms.

You can also take advantage of how databases categorize materials with subject terms or subject headings.

[Additional materials as mentioned in the video: Keywords vs Subject HeadingsBoolean operators and search strings.]

Keep in mind that the thesaurus or subject terms list only appears when searching in a single database.

Remember that librarians have master’s degrees in knowing how to look for information in a wide variety of places. We provide a more human touch to search than Google can, and can help you figure out a work’s credibility.

You can ask an AAU librarian any questions you may have. We’re always happy to help you with your research questions.

Return to Top

Don't See Your Question Here?

Don’t see your question or issue listed here? Please reach out to us, we’re always happy to help!

Ask a Librarian


What happens when I meet with a librarian?

A little preparation goes a long way. Reaching out to request a reference appointment with a librarian is a great first step in your research! 

Read more in the flyer linked below: