How do I search for articles on a topic?

Searching for articles in Sofia

The Sofia Discovery tool is a search tool that allows you to search for books, ebooks, articles, magazines and more in the Library's collection and many of our databases. Use Sofia as a "first stop," which you can follow up on by searching in specialized databases.

example Example
take note Take note!

Make sure to check out the section "What do I need to know before I start searching"

librarian Librarian tip!

If you want to use search operators (AND/OR) to find more precise results, try the advanced search. Don't forget, Sofia searches through many types of sources. Be sure to use the limits on the left-side to find only the types of documents you are looking for.

Searching for articles in a database

Finding a database

Before you can start searching for articles, you need to choose the right database! It is essential to select databases that best correspond to your topic and your needs.

To choose a database:

ProQuest Web of Science EBSCO host emerald insight Engineering Village JSTOR ScienceDirect
tip Tip: Finding current news

Some databases include articles from current events magazines and newspapers. On the Databases by subject page, go to News & Current Events under the "By content type" tab.

Keyword searching

Databases usually contain thousands of articles. Performing a keyword search is often the best way to begin identifying those that may be relevant for your assignment.

example Example: What is the impact of electronic waste on the environment?

You are interested in researching information about electronic waste and how rapid technological progress impacts the environment.

Here are possible search statements that could retrieve relevant results:

  • "electronic waste" and environment*
  • ("electronic waste" or "computer waste") and environment*
  • (computer* or electronic*) and (waste or disposal) and environment*
librarian Librarian tip!

Take the time to explore the features of a database. Each database will be different, so it is important to familiarize yourself with its layout, menus, and limits (for example date range, document type, etc.).

tip Tip: Be specific

The content of articles is usually much more specific than that of books. Therefore, search statements written for databases may contain more concepts, keywords and synonyms or related terms.

For example, here is a book and an article on a similar topic. Notice how the article title is much more specific.


The more precise your search statement, the more relevant your results may be. If appropriate, limit your search to specific fields such as title or abstract.

librarian Librarian tip! Advanced searching
Advanced Search Techniques in Databases [2:04 minutes].
activity Activity - Give it a try!

For each of the following topics, choose the most appropriate keyword search strategy for finding articles.

Congratulations! You did it!

Try again!


Searching Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a search engine that you can use to search for articles. Google Scholar is Google's academic database. When you are on campus, you will see results from Concordia Library's databases in Google Scholar.

You can search by keyword and use the advanced feature to search for articles by author, publication, and date.

example Example: Using Google Scholar
How Do I Use Google Scholar? [0:52 minutes].
tip Tip: Accessing Library resources through Google Scholar

Accessing journal articles through Google Scholar may not always work. Learn how to set up Google Scholar to find resources available @ Concordia.

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