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Library Search Tools FAQ

Below is a list of commonly asked questions regarding library search tools. If you have a question that is not answered below, please Ask A Librarian for more help.

General FAQs

How can I find an article? How do the tools for locating articles differ from one another?

The library offers a variety of tools to help you find articles, print journals, books, e-books, and more. The primary tools and their uses include:

  • Easy Search - Easy Search allows you to search by title, author, or keyword. It searches databases, the Illinois catalog, journal titles, Google, and more. It also lets you define your search by choosing a specific subject area to search. If you wish to search more than one subject, use the Advanced Search. Also feel free to look through the list of specific resources this tool searches.
  • Journal and Article Locator - The Locator searches for specific articles. You supply it with as much citation information as possible (such as the author, volume, journal title, etc.) and it will attempt to retrieve the article you are searching.
  • Online Journals & Databases - This tool searches for journals, newspapers, and databases based on title. It does not search for articles by title. It also has an option for subject searching and searching by ISSN.
  • CitationLinker - The CitationLinker is part of the Online Journals & Databases tool. It functions much like the Journal and Article Locator in that you enter all of the citation information as you have and the tool attempts to locate a specific article.
  • Library Catalog - The Illinois catalog contains holding information on print materials and most electronic materials. It also does not search for articles by title.


What information do I need to have in order to locate an article?

When trying to locate a specific article, it is helpful to have as much information as possible. However, sometimes you may not have a full citation. Fortunately, if you have the title of the article, you may be able to find it via the Easy Search tool on the library’s homepage. If you have the title of the journal the article is located in and any other additional information such as the author, page numbers, or volume, the Journal and Article Locator is a good tool to try.

If you are having trouble locating your article with these tools, it can be helpful to check Google Scholar for a reference or excerpt of the article you are looking for. Often, this will be accompanied by a full citation that you can then use with the library search tools.

See this tutorial on finding an article and these instructions on finding other materials, for more in-depth information.


What should I do if there is no online full text of the article I need?

If there is no full text online of the article you are looking for, check to see if there is a print version available. See this tutorial on locating a print copy of an article. If there is a print copy, note it's location. You can either pick it up at the library where it is housed, or place a request for it and pick it up at any campus library of your choosing.

If you are not located on campus, there are a variety of ways you can access print resources. This FAQ page on accessing library resources from a distance will help you determine the best way to access the materials you need.


How can I create a link to a subject search?

Creating a link to a subject search is very straightforward using existing library tools. To do this, go to the Online Journals & Databases tool. At the top of the page there is a “Subjects” tab. Click on this. Below there will be two boxes. In one you can choose a subject and in the other you can choose one or more subcategories (click and hold ctrl to select multiple subcategories). Perform your search. To create a link to the results of this search, copy and paste the URL from your search bar on the results page. The only drawback to this method is that the subject categories are predetermined and cannot be changed at this time.

Review a short tutorial on creating links to subject searches.


What other research tools does the library offer?

In addition to the tools listed above, the library offers several other resources for your research:

  • Online Reference Collection - This is a collection of useful reference web sites compiled by librarians. It covers a wide variety of subjects.
  • Subject Guides - These guides are collections of information and resources librarians put together on various topics or disciplines. Search through the extensive list to see if there are any with information on your subject.


Easy Search FAQs

What resources does the Easy Search tool search?

This tool searches the journals and databases Illinois has access to, the Illinois catalog, e-books, the I-share catalog, and Google Scholar. Visit this page to learn about specific databases and journals searched.

Some of the tabs across the top of the library’s homepage are extensions of Easy Search. For example, the “Books” tab performs a search similar to Easy Search but does not include databases or Google results while a search under the “Journal” tab does not include databases, e-books, or Google results, only journal titles.

Shows where Books and Journals tabs are for Easy Search


Can I choose more than one multi-subject resource?

Yes. To do this use the Advanced Search rather than Easy Search.


Help me understand the results page!

The results page for Easy Search can be overwhelming. It is divided based on the type of resource. At the very top of the page, you may notice a box with information directing you to a journal or database if your keywords closely matched the title of one of those resources. There will also be a link here if your keywords match the title of a Subject Guide.

The top results section are always for articles. The databases that are displayed vary based on the subject areas chosen for the search. If no subjects were chosen, the search will always show results from Academic Search Premier (EBSCO), Scopus, and Web of Science. These are broad databases that cover many topics. See below for more on what the different links mean.

Below the article results will be the results from the Illinois catalog, the I-Share catalog (lists materials from many Illinois universities), e-books the library owns, and journal titles. Below this are Google and Google Scholar results that match the keywords you searched.


What is the difference between article matches and title matches?

You will notice on the results page that there are multiple types of matches: article matches, phrase matches, general matches, and title matches. Matches refer to articles found that contain all of your keywords. However, these matches do not take into account the proximity of your terms. For example, if you search 'school lunches', you might get results that mention schools in the first paragraph and lunches at the end of the article. The words aren’t connected at all. Phrase matches, on the other hand, are matches where all of your search words appear together as a phrase. That same search would turn up articles with the both school and lunches next to each other. Title and article matches are fairly self-explanatory. These matches are articles that have titles similar to your keywords.



Can I limit my Easy Search to full text electronic resources?

No. You can limit your search by discipline using the drop-down menu or the Advanced Search. You can also specify on the results page whether you would like to search by author, title, or keyword.

search menu


Journal & Article Locator FAQs

Why can't the Locator find my article?

The most likely reason is that the Locator does not have enough information to do so. Check to see if you filled in all of the information. If you do not have all of the information for the article you need, consider checking Google Scholar to see if there is a more complete citation you can use.

It could also be possible that the information for the article you are searching for closely matches the information of a different article. If this is the case, you may simply have to check each of the results on the Discover results page in order to find the correct article.

If there are no matching results at all, it is likely that Illinois does not have access to the article you need. If this is the case, see this tutorial for more information on how to obtain a copy of a resource outside of UIUC.


My search took me to a Discover screen. How do I navigate this screen?

If your search took you to a Discover results screen rather than the correct article, it means that the Journal & Article Locator could not find your article for some reason (see above).

The Discover results screen will most likely have keyword and title matches for a variety of resources. The ones to focus on are the Discover E-resources A-Z list, UIUC catalog, and SCOPUS. The E-resources will take you to journal titles that are similar to your search. The UIUC catalog will take you to results that match your search in the Illinois catalog. Scopus is an online database that covers a broad range of topics and may contain articles with information that matches what you have entered.

Generally, you will probably want to start by looking at the article matches in Scopus (if there are any). These are most likely to match your search. If your article is not in these results, try the start of title matches for the other sections next (if you’re positive that you typed in the journal title in exactly correctly. If not, check the keyword matches first). These matches will take you to the Online Journals and Databases tool where you can look for the correct journal. For more help navigating this tool, view the tutorial on it.


Do I need to fill in all of this information? What if I only have some of it?

Fill in as much of it as possible. The more information you provide, the easier it is for the Locator to find the precise article you are looking for.


Should I use the citation parser or fill in my information by hand?

You can enter your citation information either way. However, be sure to check the information that the citation parser comes up with. Because different citation styles are all written differently, it is possible for the tool to miss information or place it in the wrong section.


Why doesn't the Locator let me search an article title?

Typically, the author, year, volume, and page numbers are more than enough information to pinpoint the article you are looking for. If you do want to search by title, try the Easy Search box on the library’s homepage or search for the title once you have found the correct journal via the Online Journals & Databases tool. The CitationLinker, found through the Online Journals & Databases tool, also has an option to search by article title.


Online Journals & Databases FAQs

How do I use this tool?

The Online Journals & Databases tool searches for titles of journals, newspapers, and databases. It does not search for specific article titles or authors. It also offers a subject search, a search by vendors, a search by ISSN, and the CitationLinker. These resources combine to create a tool that is useful for both finding specific resources and for searching topics more generally. See a more detailed tutorial.


Title Search: Why do I get different results when I click on the title of the resource and when I click on a database link listed under that title?

Searching for a journal title using the Online Journals & Databases tool frequently results in a lengthy list of results. While you may easily find the journal title you are searching, it’s common to find that there are several different databases the journal can be accessed through. If you simply click on the title of the journal (the red link at the top of each individual result) rather than the database links (the grey links below it), you will be taken to a screen that lists links to all available databases, the Illinois catalog, and more. If you instead click on one of the (grey) database links, you will be taken to a screen with a link straight to that particular database. There is no significant benefit to clicking on the title of the journal versus the database. It simply depends on whether you want to have quick, easy access to the catalog link for this journal or not.

different results


Title Search: Does it matter which database link I choose? Why don't all the databases cover all dates?

Different databases may cover different time periods of the same journal, so choosing the right one can make a big difference. This variance in coverage has to do with the ways various publishers and vendors handle databases and journals. Unfortunately, there is no good way around it. When choosing a database to browse, be sure to consider the date of the article you are looking for and choose the database that covers that particular time.


Title Search: What is table view?

On the results page after performing a search using the Online Journals & Databases tool, you may notice a link called “Switch to Table View.” Table view is simply a different way of organizing your search results. Rather than displaying a journal title and all of the databases that contain it, table view only displays journal titles. To get more information about each title, you must click on the small 'i' symbol next to the title. If you click on the title, you will be taken to a Discover pop-up window listing all of the databases the journal is contained in.


Subject Searching: What subject does my topic fall under?

The best way to discover this is to explore the subject tool. Try a variety of searches to see which ones turn up journals most relevant to your topic. If you already know a journal that is relevant, you might try searching for that journal and then checking to see what subject it has been categorized under (this information will be at the bottom of each result section, under the databases listed).



Subject Searching: Can I choose more than one subject or subcategory?

You can only choose one subject at a time. However, you can choose multiple subcategories. Do this by holding down the control key on your keyboard as you click each subcategory. Unfortunately, you cannot choose subcategories from different subjects.


Subject Searching: When I search multiple subcategories does it display results that are only labeled with both subcategories (i.e. does it do an AND search or an OR search)?

When you search multiple subcategories, the Online Journals & Databases tool will look for resources that have at least one of the selected subcategories. This means it will find resources that have one subcategory you chose but not all of the subcategories. In other words, it performs an "OR" search rather than an "AND" search.


Where can I search by ISSN?

Under the tab “More Options” there is a section that allows you to search by ISSN. You can also search for it using the “CitationLinker” tab. Searching by ISSN is a quick and easy way to locate a resource if you know exactly what you are looking for and have the ISSN available.


What is searching by vendor?

Also under the “More Options” tab is the option to search resources by vendor. Vendors are the companies that produce various journals and databases. You might search by vendor if you have found a useful journal and are curious to see whether its vendor produces other similar materials. There are other reasons to use this function, but for the most part this is not a searching method that most people will use very frequently.


What is the CitationLinker?

The CitationLinker allows you to input as much citation information as you have for a given article and will then search for that specific article. It is useful because it is able to search by article title and ISSN, and thus is an expansion on the Journal & Article Locator. If it does not immediately take you to the correct article, you will go to a results screen that lists a variety of journals. Choosing one takes you to a Discover window which will display any databases Illinois has that contain the journal as well as a link to the catalog entry and Google results.