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Divergent Learning: Finding Articles In Databases

Columbia College's Research Databses

Columbia College has access to several specialized research databases that contain thousands of high-quality articles relevant to your topic that are not available on the Internet. Your instructors will be highly impressed if you use these valuable resources. 

Types of articles include:

  • professionally written articles in trade publications
  • scholarly journal articles
  • newspaper articles 
  • articles/chapters from highly specialized Encyclopedias and/or eBooks

Keep scrolling for more information on how to access these articles. 

Using the Databases

Which database you use will depend on your topic. Read the database descriptions to determine if a database may hold relevant information.

Any, or all of these, would be a great start.

To view the full list of databases the library subscribes to, including trial access, click on the link below.

When accessing our databases, you will be prompted to log in. Enter your Username and Password. 

Username: Your username is your full CC email address, which should be your
Password: Unless you have changed it, your password should be Koala (with a capital "K"), plus the last 4 digits of your SSN. 

Username: jane 
Password: Koala1234

** Please Note: If you are refused the first time, please log in a second time. (Sometimes it takes the system time to recognize you.)

Having trouble? Click the Contact Us tab on this guide. 

If you try to type your entire research question into a library database you're going to run into trouble. Instead, you'll need to identify key concepts, also known as keywords, out of your research question to use as search terms.

Let's use the following research question as an example: 

How is dyslexia affect the formation of literacy skills in children?

The key concepts/phrases in this question are: dyslexialiteracy, and children. Those are the keywords that we'll start with.

Now, let's think of some other words that we may want to use in our search. It's important to try multiple keywords to discover which combination is going to yield the best results for your research.

Dyslexia: dyslexic, learning disorder, learning disability

Unlike Google, databases do not always find variations of words. That is why it would be important to try both dyslexia and dyslexic.

Searching for terms like learning disorder or learning disability would give broader results than searching for a specific disorder, like dyslexia. When trying to determine which terms to use as keywords, read a few articles or look at the subjects authors have listed to help you decide what terminology is most commonly used in the literature.

Children: preschool, elementary, juvenile, youth

Here is where you may want to get a little more specific. Are you researching all children or just elementary school aged children? Third graders? Teenagers? Adolescents? Each of these words will return a different set of results. Think about what terms professionals are using; kid isn't a term that is typically used in professional literature, but juvenile is.

Literacy: reading skills, writing skills

Reading skills and writing skills are not direct synonyms for literacy, but they may be useful to broaden your search.


For more help forming keywords, click on the Discovering Keywords tab. 

For more help linking keywords together to form a search string, click on the Linking Keywords tab.

Use this graphic organizer to help you clearly focus of the topic, generate a list of synonymous topic terms, and generate a list of key concepts related to the topic (ie. the "Five W's").

Are you getting too many results? Use AND to narrow your search. This will return any results that contain both words or phrases.

Ex. South Carolina AND history


Not getting enough results? Try OR to broaden your search. This will return any results that have either word or phrase.

Ex. Climate Change OR global warming


Do you have a lot of results with non-relevant information? Try using NOT to eliminate certain words from your results.

Ex. Pets NOT cats


An asterisk (*) can be used to search for multiple word endings.

Ex. knitreturns results for knit, knits, knitter, knitters, knitting


A question mark (?) can be used as a wildcard.

Ex. wom?n returns results for woman or women


Quotation marks (" ") can be used to search for an exact phrase.

Ex. "climate change"

The best way to find scholarly journal articles is by searching our online Databases.

Once inside the database:

  • Check-mark the Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed box. (You may have to scroll down a bit to see this choice).
  • Begin your search by typing in your keywords and clicking on Search.

Feel free to experiment by using helpful search features, such as Date Span or Full-Text only! 

Although check-marking the Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed selection box will greatly increase your chances of finding such articles, we also strongly suggest you evaluate the article as well; your professors will appreciate it if you do! Typically, "scholarly journal articles" tend to have the following characteristics: 

  • Longer/more substantive than an article in a popular magazine
  • Written by an author(s) with expertise in the field and easily identifiable credentials 
  • Well structured and well organized
  • Published in/by a reputable source
  • Long list of References at the end of the article

​Need advice? Just call or email a librarian. We're always happy to help!

Reference Desk: 803.786.3703