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PolyU Library

Find Journal Articles

A guide to introduce how to find journal articles more effectively

Types of Periodicals

Library provides access to a rich collection of periodicals in both print and e-formats. The collection includes:

  • Popular Magazines: covered short articles written by journalists, staff or freelance writers on current events, news, opinions and topics of general interests.
  • Professional or Trade Journals: usually written by staff writers or specialists of a particular business, industry or organization to update interested parties on the latest industry trends, new products or techniques, and organizational news.
  • Scholarly Journals: mostly authored by professors, researchers and students that focus on frontier research projects, theories, and methodologies. Most scholarly publications are peer-reviewed which means that their articles have gone through a critique and approval processes by the subject experts before publication. To know whether a journal is peer-reviewed, refer to the tips at Check whether the journal is peer-reviewed.

Where to Find Journal Articles

There can be more than one way to get the information we need. To find journal articles we can go for both Google Scholar and library databases. However, search results can vary depending on the coverage of sources and their searching mechanism.

Understanding the difference among these platforms can help you choose where to go when you have a specific research need. 


  • OneSearch - Library's search engine; covers over 90% of the library collections at item level across disciplines and material types. 
  • Google Scholar - A scholarly version of Google; has the largest pool of scholarly articles. However, it is the least trusted platform because many retrieved articles are not peer-reviewed works.
  • Article Database - Allows you to search within a specific field (e.g. title, keywords), and refine search results using filters - All to help you find what you need quickly and effectively. 
  • Request an article through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services - for articles that are not available in our collection.

You can search for scholarly articles in OneSearch as well. You may search by keywords or title of the article. 

Watch this video to learn how to find and access articles in OneSearch:

You may also refer to the steps below:

  1. Visit Library homepage. Type in your keywords or title of the article and hit the search button. (You may also switch to "Articles" tab which will limit your search to articles only)
  2. Limit results to "Articles" under Resource Type on the right panel of the page. You may further refine results to "Peer-reviewed journals", or "Creation date" (Publication date).
  3. Click on the article title to see more information about the article.
  4. Click "Download PDF" to directly download the full text PDF, or visit other options under "View It Online" to read the article online. 

To search articles in Google Scholar, we suggest that you access Google Scholar via the Library homepage, especially when you are out of campus. By doing this you will be able to directly access the full text of the articles (we subscribed to) through PolyU eLinks.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Visit Library homepage, switch to "Articles" and then click on Google Scholar@PolyU. Sign in with your NetID and NetPassword if you are out of campus.
  2. Conduct a search in Google Scholar. The article within our collection will be provided with the "PolyU eLinks" option. Click to get the full text PDF for free.

Google Scholar setting - link with PolyU Library

You may also change the setting in your Google Scholar to link it up with Library subscribed databases. This is identical to clicking on Google Scholar@PolyU via Library homepage.

Searching within a database helps you narrow your search as the coverage of the database can be very selective. Some databases focus on one specific area, which can help you filter out the contents that are not relevant to the subject; some may cover peer-reviewed journals only, to ensure the articles covered are of certain quality. Almost all databases will provide an Advanced Search option, which allows you to search in a more precise way, e.g. search within article title, journal title, or subject terms (that are tagged to each article). This helps you find the most relevant results quickly and effectively. Browse list of databases below:

Note that login with NetID is required to access the following databases off campus.

Follow the steps below to find an article in one specific database:

  1. Visit Library homepage, switch to "Databases" and then search the database by name, or browse databases by subject.
  2. Search for the name of the database, or browse from A-Z.
  3. Click on Online Access to access the database.
  4. You may now start your search by typing in your keywords. You may also search in a specific field, e.g. search by article title, keywords, journal title (source title, publication title), etc. The fields offered vary depending on the databases.
  5. Most databases allow to refine search results by Year, Author, Subject Area, Document Type, etc. or sort results by Relevance, Date of publication, Citation counts, etc. These all help you quickly locate the articles you desire. 

  6. To find the full-text PDF, click on PolyU eLinks. This will link you to the options where full-text is available. 

Search in a citation database to find more related journal articles

Web of Science and Scopus are two large multidisciplinary citation databases. They do not provide full-text articles, but they are very helpful for exploring related articles by looking at citing articles (who cited the article) and references (who have been cited by the article). If you do not have an idea of which databases or journals to go for, you may start with these two.

Sometimes you may be unable to get the full text of a journal article because the library does not have a journal subscription. In this case, you can request a copy of the article via our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service. 

Details can be found at the below guide.

Search Tips

Boolean Operators (AND, OR and NOT)

  • AND combines search terms so that each result contains all of the terms. AND narrows your search.
    e.g.: youth AND drug finds articles that contain both youth and drug.

  • OR combines search terms so that each result contains at least one of the terms. OR is often used to connect synonyms or similar concepts. OR broadens your search.
    e.g.: youth OR teenager finds articles that contain either youth or teenager or both.

  • NOT excludes terms so that each result does not contain the term that follows it. NOT narrows your search.
    e.g.: drug NOT alcohol finds articles that contain drug but exclude alcohol.

Search Order of Boolean Operators

  • NOT AND > OR (in most databases, including OneSearch)
  • Use parentheses () if you need to override the order. 


  • youth OR teenager AND drug finds articles that contain either youth (only), or teenager and drug (both words are present);
  • (youth OR teenager) AND drug finds articles that contain either youth and drug (both words are present) or teenager and drug (both words are present).

Truncations & Wildcards

Truncations (*) and wildcards (?, #) are used to include different spellings therefore broadens your search.


  • comput* searches computer, computers, computing
  • colo?r searches color, colour

Truncation and wildcard symbols may vary by database. Check the Help page in the database to learn the symbols and operators that database supports. (or, google database name + "operator" to locate the search help page directly)

Phrase search with quotation marks ""

Phrase search is used to search the specific expression or concepts. Usually quotation marks "" are used to search the exact phrase. Phrase search narrows your search.


  • "knowledge sharing" searches only the phrase "knowledge sharing" and will NOT search knowledge creation and sharing (additional words in between) or knowledge shared

In some databases, quotation marks cannot be used with truncation or wildcards. e.g.: "knowledge shar*". Do check the Help page in the database to learn the symbols and operators that database supports.

Keyword searching Subject Heading searching

Keywords are natural language words or phrases that describe the search topic.

Keyword searching looks for the keywords in any field of the record (if not specified).

Subject headings are a group of "controlled vocabularies" that describe the content of each item. These controlled vocabularies are usually given by subject specialists or indexers.

Subject heading searching looks for the subject heading terms in the subject heading field (e.g. Subject, Subject Terms) of the record.

Commonly used subject headings include  MeSH and Emtree, both are used to search biomedical literature.


  • Subject heading searching helps you find articles by "meaning".
    e.g. search "knowledge management" by Subject returns results that may not contain the phrase "knowledge management" but discuss organizational learning (which is a related subject to knowledge management).
  • Some databases can recommend subject headings when you do a keyword searching. After that you may select appropriate subject headings to search again.
    e.g. EBSCOhost uses "Suggest Subject Terms".