Tutorial: Finding Articles

Journal Article Citations

When you search an index or Omni, you get citations. They're often called references, as well.

A citation is a description of an article (or a book, or any other type of document), including information on where and when it was published.

  • This is the first step to finding articles - knowing which journals have published the articles you want.

Journal article citations always include the:

  • article title
  • authors' names
  • journal title
  • volume/issue/date
  • page numbers

These citations sometimes also include:

  • an abstract (a brief summary of the article's content)
  • a list of subjects
  • a link to the full article

The role of a citation is NOT to tell you what's in a particular library, but to tell you what's been published.

  • Once you know which journals have your articles, you get those journals through your Library (the next tutorial).
  • While many libraries use the same indexes, the process to move from the index to the full text of the article is unique to each library, according to the resources available.

Every index has its own way of displaying citations.  You'll get used to the format used in your favourites, but at first it may take some studying to recognize what it's telling you.

Below are labelled screen captures of two of the popular index citations: Scholars Portal Journals and Academic Search Elite.

You may notice that a journal article citation contains the same information you include in the bibliographies of your papers. You've already written citations yourself!

For either of these examples there's an option to get a more detailed citation, but this brief description gives you what you need to find the article.


This citation from Omni shows:

  • the item is an ARTICLE
  • article title
  • article author
  • journal title, publication date, volume, issue, and page numbers
  • part of the abstract where the search terms appear (underlined)
  • it's in a peer-reviewed journal
  • links to the full text: "Available Online"

Screenshot of a citation in Omni

Scholars Portal Journals

This citation from Scholars Portal Journals shows:

  • the article title at the top
  • the authors
  • the date, volume, issue, and page numbers, followed by the title of the journal
  • an abstract describing what the article is about
  • subjects identifying the main topics covered
  • a link to the full text in .pdf.

sample citation from Scholars Portal Journals


This is a citation from EBSCO's Academic Search Elite - a very popular interface.  The citation shows:

  • article title
  • authors' names
  • journal title, date, volume, issue, and page numbers. 

Those are the essentials.  Then it also provides

  • an abstract which describes the article content,
  • subject headings
  • previews of images
  • links to available full text.

sample citation from Academic Search Elite, with labels


An A&I database (index) or Omni is a common source of citations, but they're not the only places to find them.

Find citations in some of the following:

  • the References list (or Bibliography, Works Cited) of another article on the topic,
  • a Suggested Reading list in your course textbook,
  • references in any other course readings,
  • a published bibliography on the subject.

Using references like these can help you find useful readings with a fraction of the work. However, these lists are often only in print, and don't have hyperlinks to the full text. You need to be able to locate those articles.

  • Once you have a citation for a journal article, you locate the journal, as shown in the next step:  Linking to Online Journals.