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CAPS Guide to Library Resources: Find Articles

What do you need from the Colby Libraries for researching a topic?

Identify Journal Articles

What is Primary Literature?

Primary Literature

  1. It's where the researcher published their findings first.
    (i.e., the primary place the data is found).
  2. In science, it's usually a journal article
    outlining methodology, data, results, conclusions.
  3. It will always have a Literature Cited section.
  4. It is the researcher's own words,
    not summarize by anyone else.
  5. It is found in scholarly journals
    such as Animal Behaviour, American Journal of Physics

Secondary (review) articles summarize other people's primary literature articles.  These are a good place to start to understand a topic. Examples are the Annual Reviews series, many books in the sciences, or any article that has the word "review" in the title.

Newspaper articles, including publications such as Newsweek or Science News, are NOT primary, peer-reviewed literature. Natural History and Smithsonian are secondary literature (reviews), although scientific in scope. News articles can help inform you of broader and current information.

Now What?

Found an article? Now what?

  1. Most databases provide a link directly to the article if we have access.question mark
  2. You may be given an option to connect to the Journal Title in CBBcat to check if we have access (paper or electronic)..
  3. If we do not have the title, try searching the Article Title in Google Scholar.
  4. Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is always an option if you have enough time (turnaround can vary from same day to a week or more ).

Can't Connect?

We have thousands of electronic journals.

Sometimes the links to journals change, the article you need is outside our subscription years, you are asked for a password, or some other problem occurs with access.

First, check the Journal Title in our Journal A-Z list.

Then, don't hesitate to report problems to us. Often, the only way we know of a change is when our users tell us. Contact library staff directly with your questions or comments (in person, via email).

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