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Advanced Research Strategies (HC)

Summer 2023

Using Journal Articles Critically

Selecting Journal Articles

Where was the article published?  Does it come from a scholarly journal published by a university press or one that is connected to an organization of researchers?

What is the author's main argument?  See the accompanying abstract or skim the first page or two of the article.

What are the author's qualifications?   Look at the brief biographical sketch accompanying the article or check the web.  What other articles and books has the author published?

When was the article published?  Are there more recent articles that may incorporate newer evidence and interpretations?


Reading Journal Articles Critically

How does the author summarize previous scholarship on the questions involved?  Thinking about this will add to your understanding of the broader historical context. 

What disciplinary approach/es does the author take?  For example, is the article written from the point of view of history or political science?  Are there interpretations from additional  academic fields, like anthropology or sociology, introduced within an article that explores an historical or political question?

What makes this author's argument significant?   What new ideas does this article offer? 

What kinds of primary sources does the author use?  What evidence does the author offer to support the argument and how does the author interpret that evidence?

What are the author's conclusions?  What concluding ideas does the author draw from his or her argument?  Do you find it convincing?  Are there questions that were not fully answered?

Why Use Journal Articles?

Scholarly journal articles are important sources of information offering:
  • Originality.  Provides new evidence and interpretations.
  • Authoritativeness.  Written by researchers for their peers.
  • Documentation.  Cites key scholarship in footnotes that you can check.
  • Reliability.  Reviewed by editors for significance and accuracy.
  • Conciseness.  Presents an argument cogently
  • Engagement.  Responds to issues and adds to an ongoing dialog.
  • Currency.  Treats issues more quickly than books due to publishing schedules

Finding Journal Articles

1) Searching by the Article Title:  ""Dammit, Jim, I'm a Muslim Woman, Not a Klingon!': Mediating the Immigrant Body in Mohja Kahf's Poetry"

      Check Tripod using the search filter Articles or Proquest Research Library where this article and many more are available full-text.

2) By the Journal Name: JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association 

      Check Tripod- Journal Search  where all journals, as well as newspapers and popular magazines, are listed by title.

         Tip: The Journal Search link is in the Navigation Bar.

3) By Broad Subject - Multi-disciplinary Databases,:

      Use these journal databases where you can apply a full range of search techniques to find scholarship on your topic.  These include choosing exact terminology, using Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT to define the relationships among search terms, and employing strategies for precise results with nesting, phrase searches, truncation, field searching, and sorting results.  See the Search Tips tab for more details.  

      These databases sometimes include magazines and newspapers.  They cover the top-tier journals but will not go into depth in the different subject areas:

ProQuest Research Library    View from Bryn Mawr    This link opens in a new window Connect from Haverford College  This link opens in a new windowConnect from Swarthmore College  This link opens in a new window

Provides citations and full-text magazine and journal articles in a wide variety of disciplines, both scholarly and popular in scope. Covers 1971-present.

JSTOR      View from Bryn Mawr This link opens in a new window   Connect from Haverford College  This link opens in a new window   Connect from Swarthmore College  This link opens in a new window  

Provides full-text and page images from many of the top journals in most academic disciplines. But note that the most recent issues of journals  (three to five years or more) are not included in JSTOR.  Use a different database if you need very current information.
Indexes scholarly journals in all fields of study.  Very current in its coverage of the latest issues published.

Finding Journal Articles in Subject-Specific Databases

4)  Finding Articles in Subject-Specific Databases 

Take advantage of  more in-depth coverage of topics with databases focused on a specific academic discipline.

Where to find subject-specific databases?  Check the Research Guides website which outlines the major databases by subject area.  It also includes resource lists for classes and for categories like news and government information.  The Research Guides site can be searched by word or phrase (in quotations) to find specific topics.. 

See the lists in the next column for examples of major databases in the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences.

Art & Art History

Chemistry & Psychology

Environmental Studies & Public Health


Politics & History

Sociology & Anthropology