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W1-3 Research: Resources

Find Articles in Databases

Library databases are searchable, curated collections that aid research. They may focus on academic disciplines or subjects, types of material or types of users. The following databases are often used in W1 classes.

Use the filtering/refining tools on the results page of a search to focus on the type of material needed for your assignment.

Articles in Scholarly Journals

Limit your database search to scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. Scholarly Journal Articles:

  • are very important in college level research
  • are written by and for scholars
  • use citations/bibliographies to give attribution and provide evidence
  • are ideally peer-reviewed by other scholars in a rigorous vetting process

Articles in Magazines & Newspapers

Assignments may also allow the use of articles in respected, fact-checked, popular periodicals. Look for articles that include thoughtful arguments and analysis. Limit your database search to Magazines or Newspapers.

Besides searching databases, one can search a specific magazine or newspaper title.

Some examples...

Search for other titles in CBBcat as follows:

Photo: Typewriter on Wooden Table, Flickr (CC0 1.0)

Search Tips


  • Experiment with different search combinations, using synonyms and related terms.
  • Use an asterisk to stand in for multiple word endings: narrat* = narrator, narrative, narrate, narrates
  • Use quotation marks to "glue together" a phrase: "stream of consciousness"
  • Use AND between terms to narrow results to items containing both terms: urban AND transport*
  • Using OR between items (within parenthesis) widens results: ("first-person" OR "point of view")
  • Combine terms to build search strings.


Find an item of interest using a keyword search? Look at its item record to identify Subject Terms. These links group material  together by topic which can yield more precise results. Sample subject headings:

Note that searching a broad subject in CBBcat can lead to a further list of sub-divisions. These can be helpful in focusing your research.


To find items by authors, do an Author Search (last name, first name):  Strayed, Cheryl

To find items about authors, do a Subject Search (last name, first name):  Thomas, Lewis

To find literary criticism, note that major authors often have the sub-division Criticism and interpretation:  Foer Jonathan Safran 1977 Criticism And Interpretation


Check the notes, references and bibliographies of every relevant article or book. You may discover a book or article perfect for your topic. One good source can lead to another!


OneSearch is a discovery tool.

  • It searches multiple resources at once, but prioritization problems.
  • Database or CBBcat topical searches usually get better results
  • OneSearch works best for very precise searches, such as:
  • Finding a specific article
  • Finding book reviews for a specific book
  • Finding articles or book chapters on lesser-known people or narrow topics
  • Use limiters!  E.g. journal articles, scholarly material, book chapters, book reviews

Need to use these resources off campus?

For the most reliable access, install VPN (Virtual Private Network) on your computer or device.

Instructions are on the Colby VPN webpage:


Find Books in CBBcat

SEARCH our library catalog 

Books at Colby? Look at the location and call number in any item record. Service desk personnel can help you locate an item.

Books at the Colby Storage Facility, Bates or Bowdoin? To order, click
Enter your name and bar code number (omit beginning and ending letters) from your Student ID or Library Card. You will be notified by email when your request is available to pickup at the Miller Service Desk.

Not finding what you want in CBBcat or MaineCat?  Check WorldCat and order through ILLIAD our interlibrary loan service.

Reference Sources

  • Provide helpful overviews
  • Help you identify search terms
  • Allow topic exploration

Photo: Book by Lalena Jaramillo, 2014, Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
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