PART III: Selecting and Obtaining the Best Results - p. 4 of 5


3—Look at the full text of the article.


The final step in assessing article relevance is reading the full article. Often you can tell if it is worth continuing just by reading the first couple paragraphs, when most authors present their thesis or agenda. You may also want to skim the entire article , scanning the main sections to see if it is worth reading the whole thing.


Remember, an important part of using sources to effectively support your position is thoroughly understanding those sources. If you are considering using a source for your assignment, you need to read and understand it.


So how can you get the full text of an article that looks promising? The answer depends on the database you are using, but here are some general tips:


First, pay attention to which database you are using because they all offer different levels of access. Some just let you search citations and abstracts, with no access to the full text of the articles (Criminal Justice Abstracts, Medline). Others give you full text for everything (JSTOR, Lexis-Nexis), and still others offer a mix of full-text and abstract-only (Academic Search Premier, Academic OneFile).


If you are using a database that offers some full text access to articles, you may be able to get the full articles by just clicking on the titles that come up in your search. In other databases, you may see a separate link that says something like “PDF Full Text”, “HTML Full Text”, “View in full text”, etc. Clicking on those links will often open up a window with the actual article.


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