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Finding Articles at the Lloyd Sealy Library
Part 1 – Searching for Articles in Databases

When you need to search for articles on a specific topic, it is best to use an electronic database located on the library Web page.   Databases are electronic collections of articles, documents or statistical works which can be searched by subject or specific authors or specific title, etc.

Step 1: Select a database that is appropriate for your topic.

A) To select a database, go to the library Web page at www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu and click on “Electronic Information Databases.” (The link is located on the left column of the library Web page.)

On the next screen select the “Browse Databases by Broad Subject” from the left column. Use the drop-down menu which lists broad subject areas such as Criminal Justice, or Human Rights, or Law, or Women’s Studies, etc. Click on “GO” to Select the broad subject .

- If you are a Freshman or you are just starting to use databases, you might want to select Freshman Sources and pick from the nine databases that are listed.
- If you are writing your paper for a psychology class, then pick Psychology from the drop-down menu  in the “Browse Databases by Broad Subject” option. Then pick one of the databases to search for articles on your topic.

B) Select a database from the list of databases that displays after you click on GO. Read the descriptions and make your selection. Click on the underlined title of the database to enter the database.

The example below is a partial list of databases that displays when you ask for Freshmen Sources in the “Browse Databases by Broad Subject.”

TIP: When you see a list and are not certain which database to use, start with EBSCOhost Academic Search Premier. You should be able to find articles listed for most topics. You can read more about using Ebscohost Academic Search Premier below and in the library publication called Searching Ebsco.

C) When you know the name of the database you want to use, start on the library Web page, click on “Electronic Information Databases.”

Select the alphabetic listing and then click on the database name.

Or use the search box as shown below to pull up the title of the database so that you can then link to the specific database you want to use.

Note: You will NOT get a list of articles from this search box , only a list of database names.


Step 2:  Select your search terms or Keywords for your topic.

Use only the words that are most specific to your topic.
Do not type in complete sentences or questions.
Connect your search terms with connecting words or Boolean operators: AND or  OR as shown below:

To Limit your results, Use the word AND

Example: teenagers AND marijuana

To Expand your results, Use the word OR

Example: teenagers OR adolescents

Truncation Tip: When a search term can have different endings use the asterisk *
For example: teen*
In this case, the computer will look for all these forms of the search terms:   teens or teenager or teenagers 


Step 3:  Type your search terms or Keywords in the search box.

  • Each database will have different options for entering your search terms.  Additional details about searching specific databases are available as Library publications or as help pages on the library Web site.
  • Use the advanced search screen with the drop-down menus on the search boxes so that you have more control over where the computer searches for your keywords or search terms. Most databases provide a basic and an advanced search option.
  • In the advanced search screen below from EBSCOhost Academic Search Premier please note that:
         on the left you can set the connecting words to be AND or OR.
         on the right you can tell the computer to look for your keywords in specific locations.
         See the descriptions of these locations below:
              default fields: includes the title , author, subjects, abstract
              subject terms: text of the article, or author or only the title, etc.

Note: Databases that are not from EBSCO will be a little different , but the basic concept applies to most library periodical databases.


Step 4:  Review your resulting list of articles. Read the abstracts.

  • If you are not happy with your search results:
    try changing the keyword(s) to a related term or synonym;
    try removing one of the search terms;
    try adding a search term;
    try using the exact wording of the subject terms assigned to a good article and change the drop-down menu location to Subject Terms.
    Note: For further help, read the library publication:  Troubleshooting.
  • Pay attention to the differences between articles that are from scholarly journals and articles from popular magazines.  For further details, read the library publication: Is It a Scholarly Journal?


Step 5: Link to the full text of the articles.  Print or email the text.

Depending on the database used, you will see various links - either on the top line or the bottom line of the display of the article title and abstract. The links can help you locate the full text of the article.  Each type of link works differently and not all links work perfectly.

For more details read: Finding Articles Part 2 : Finding the Full Text of the Article.


Step 6: Try these alternative methods of obtaining the text of the article, if you cannot link directly to the full text

  • When you know the title of a specific journal or have a specific citation, check the “List of Full Text Electronic Journals” on the library Web page.

    Notes: For details on this approach read the library publication: Finding Articles Part 2 : Finding the Full Text of the Article.

    Also, you will need a John Jay email account in order to use links to electronic journals from off-campus.  See the directions for obtaining an email account on    the library Web page – “Connecting from Home”.

  • When you want the paper copy of a specific journal, look up the name of the Journal – not the name of the article – in   CUNY + .   Determine that the library has the journal for the specific year you need and write down the call number. Then look for the journal by call number in the Periodical Section on the 2nd floor of the Library.  Some journals or newspapers may be stored in the microfilm cabinets which are located near the Reference Desk on the 2nd floor.

  • If you would like help, Ask at the Reference Desk on the 2nd floor of the Library or call the Reference Desk during library hours at  (212) 237–8246 or 237–8247.

Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
899 10th Avenue
NY, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 237-8246

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