Dr. Alex E. Blazer Curriculum Vita Teaching Portfolio

Literary Research Methods


Primary Texts

Secondary Texts

Journal Articles

Searching Databases

Locating Journals


This handout will help you find scholarly journal articles, books, and book chapters using Voyager and the article databases available on the University Libraries homepage. It will also help you find authoritative and scholarly websites using online subject directories, guides, and search engines. You should always use scholarly journal articles and books in a research paper because these constitute appropriate research in all venues. However you should not use websites in research unless your instructor explicitly allows and your assignment prompt directly calls for them because websites generally offer context rather than analysis.

1. Books

At GVSU, all searches for books and book chapters begin with a Voyager search, the online catalogue accessed on the University Libraries homepage as the "Do we own it?" search or on the Voyager page that affords advanced search options.


a. Primary Texts

b. Secondary Texts

2. Journal Articles

Journals are scholarly publications that are issued two to four times a year. Journal articles are extensive, sometimes book chapter-length essays written by scholars in the field. Therefore, journal articles should not be confused with magazine and newspaper articles, which are short essays written by non-academics on deadline. Unless your instructor tells you otherwise, refrain from using magazine and newspaper articles as sources in a literary research paper. There are two steps in the process of researching journal articles. First, you must search article databases for articles; and, second, you must locate the journals that contain the articles.


a. Searching Article Databases


There are a two ways to commence your search for journal articles, each of which are linked under the "Start" heading on the University Libraries homepage. Note: clicking eJournals will take you to a title listing of journals, not a searchable database of journal articles.

  1. Subject Resources : Clicking on Subject Resources and then English or Literature will take you to English databases .
  2. Databases: Clicking on Databases allows you to see all of the databases licensed for use by the GVSU community.
  3. Nautilus: I only recommend using Nautilus if you do not know what subject resource (like English or Art) or database (like Academic Search Premier or Literature Online) to choose.

No matter the route you take, you will be using article databases, the most appropriate for your search are listed in order of importance.

Note for Liberal Studies students: Because Liberal Studies courses include not only literature but also music, art, and philosophy, you may need to use other Subject Databases after checking the English databases above.

Here are two good databases available outside of the library's site.

b. Locating Journals


After you have found the listings for journal articles within the article databases, you must retrieve the articles. Although many listings have links to the full-text articles, some journals are available only in print. However, like books, GVSU does not possess every journal listed in the article databases. To determine if GVSU owns the journal, input the title of the journal from which the article comes into a "Do we own it?" journal title search on the University Libraries Homepage.