J. Find/Evaluate Articles

1. Problem:

Students often begin searching for information on a research topic by using Google, Wikipedia, or even YouTube.

These sites provide access to the "Visible Web," sites that are freely available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Many students are unaware of the fact that libraries  subscribe to many hundreds of "Invisible Web" databases that provide access to magazine, journal and newspaper articles.

Enrolled students can get many of these articles for free either because the campus library subscribes to them, or through a free interlibrary loan form.

See Expected Learning Outcomes and Methods for help with this problem.

2. Expected Learning Outcomes:

After doing in-class exercises or going through an online tutorial, all students will list three differences between the "Visible" and "invisible" web.

After doing in-class exercises or going through an online tutorial, all students will select three databases useful for their topics.

3. Methods:


1. "Road to Research: Find It! Articles

2. Google Scholar (GS) compared to Licensed Article Databases

Note: All research tools have limitations, including Google Scholar and licensed article databases. This exercise helps illustrate those limitations. You may pose the following questions to students during a class session, or as a written out-of-class assignment. Or, you may ask students to form groups and answer these questions in a class wiki.

Exercise: Search for a topic in Google Scholar (GS) and in one of your library's licensed article databases, and answer the following questions:

a. How many results did you get in each?

b. What types of materials does your search retrieve?

c. Which topics does each cover?

d. What time period do both GS and the licensed article database cover?

e. Can you find a list of journals and other publications that GS and the licensed article database index?

f. Do a search and find the same item in both GS and the licensed article database. How many times have others cited this item, according to GS and then, according to the licensed article database? If there is a difference in these numbers, why would that be the case?

g. Keep in mind that you may be able to get free copies of articles through GS and through licensed article databases through your library's proxy server.

All learners: Who pays so you can get articles for free through Google Scholar?


  • Many databases use the asterisk (*) as a wild card symbol, so that searching for "child*" will retrieve "child," "children," and "childhood."
  • Check the online Help for a database to find out which wild card (truncation) symbols it uses.
  • See also "S. For Librarians..." in this guide for handouts and exercises.


 Examples of Article Index Databases (licensed) 

  • Academic Search Complete (Licensed by various institutions)
    Indexes and abstracts over 10,000 publications, with the complete text of over 5,500 periodicals, including 4,600 peer-reviewed journals.
  • Alt-PressWatch (Licensed by various institutions)
    (Click on Advanced tab to search.)
    Complete text of independent press and alternative magazines and journals, 1995 to the present.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch (Licensed by various institutions)
    Complete text of over 200 ethnic, minority and Native American publications, 1990 to the present.
  • Web of Knowledge (Web of Science) (Licensed by various institutions)
    Science Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, Arts and Humanities Citation Index, together, index 8000 journals, 1975 to the present.
4. Assessment
  • "Road to Research: Find It!  Quiz" (Guest)
  • "Road to Research: Judge for Yourself: Articles

Note: Links above are to archived copies of pages in the Internet Archive, as the "Road to Research" is temporarily unavailable as of 16 Sep 2015 due to revision work on the UCLA Social Sciences Computing Center's website.

 In addition, this tutorial has not been maintained by the UCLA Library since Summer 2011, and some portions may be out of date. It is used here as an example.