Curtis Laws Wilson Library
400 W. 14th Street
Rolla, MO 65409-0060

8 AM - Midnight
7 Days a Week
Closed Campus Holidays

Main office: 573-341-4227
Circulation: 573-341-4008
Interlibrary Loan: 573-341-4006
Reference: 573-341-4007
Fax: 573-341-4233

Searching the Scholarly Journal Literature

Because there are many journals devoted to each academic discipline, special tools are needed to locate articles that have been written on any topic. These tools are called databases, and they serve as indexes to the journal literature in a number of different fields.

If you already know the best database for your research, or if you'd like to browse through all those offered by the library, there is a link to the full list of databases in the navigation bar to the left.

If you are unsure of which databases would be best, you can consult the subject guides maintained by Missouri S&T librarians. We provide a guide for each department at the university, and each guide recommends a number of the best databases to use when researching topics associated with those departments. There is a link to the subject guides on the library's home page.


Each database has a slightly different interface. In this example we will look at the Mechanical & Transportation Engineering Abstracts database.



You can begin your search by entering a keyword, just as you would with a typical search engine. In selecting a keyword, it is best to focus on specific nouns that describe your topic.



When you perform your search, you will receive a list of the articles in this database that match your search terms. Each article is identified by its bibliographic citation, which is the information you can use to locate a copy of the article. This database also provides an excerpt from the article's abstract, which is a brief summary indicating what the article is about.



If an article sounds interesting, you can click on its title to view the abstract in full. By reading the articles' abstracts, you can get an idea of which articles are best for your particular research and also what other keywords might help you perform a more focused search.


Certain databases provide a link to electronic full-text versions of some of their articles. In many cases, though, you will have to make use of other library resources in order to obtain a copy.