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Articles can help you find

  • original research and experimental studies
  • current information on contemporary events, issues, trends, and accomplishments
  • commentary on recent as well as past political and social issues
  • information on or descriptions of past events, issues, trends, and accomplishments written at the time they occurred
  • material on popular culture and entertainment - past and present
  • new or obscure information not covered in books

What articles are

  • Articles are nonfiction
  • Articles appear in periodical publications
  • Articles vary in reliability and usefulness depending upon the type of periodical they are published in

Types of articles

There are several types of articles. Each type tends to be published in periodicals, which specialize in that format for presenting information. These types are:

Scholarly and research articles

  • are generally written by scholars
  • are generally peer reviewed
  • report on original research or experimentation
  • provide in depth analysis
  • use the technical language of the discipline
  • may be lengthy
  • almost always cite sources in footnotes and bibliographies
  • may be published by professional societies and university presses
  • may contain graphs, charts, photographs, etc.
  • are most easily identified using a subject specific index
  • often begin with an abstract of the content

Professional, trade, and industry articles

  • are generally written by professionals in the field for other professionals
  • report on trends, news, and new developments in a particular field
  • often uses the jargon of the trade or profession
  • are published by commercial publishers or professional associations
  • often contain charts, graphs, and other illustrative material


  • are written for an interested audience
  • frequently comment on political and social issues of interest to that particular audience
  • authors vary in their expertise on the subjects they write about
  • may exhibit a specific point of view or bias

Newspaper articles and editorials

  • are generally written by trained journalists
  • report on current events, issues, research, sports, entertainment, etc
  • may be an opinion or analysis
  • will often have an international, national, regional, or local focus

Popular articles

  • are often written by journalists
  • may be written to inform the non-specialist reader
  • may be written to entertain readers
  • report on current events, news, popular science, popular culture, entertainment, etc.
  • use common or everyday language
  • often have illustrations including glossy photographs

Different types of articles appear in different types of journals. It will help you select useful and relevant information if you know which type of journal is most likely to contain which type of article. The types of periodicals page compares and contrasts the different types of journals and what they contain.

To find articles

You must use indexes to find articles. Print and databases make the vast amount of information contained in articles available to you. Print indexes provide access to articles that were written before databases appeared. Some indexes are interdisciplinary and cover all subjects, such as Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature or Academic Search Complete. Other indexes are subject-specific and cover the periodical publications of that discipline in great detail. Examples of these are Art Index, Education Abstracts, and Engineering Index.

To find articles published prior to 1980 you must use a print index. To find articles published after 1980 most of the time you can use an database. For help using print indexes and databases see the module Developing Search Strategies.

Whenever you select an article to use, evaluate it critically. Not all articles contain reliable or useful information for your topic. Refer to the module on Evaluating Information for help.

If you have trouble finding relevant articles on your topic, remember ASK A LIBRARIAN.