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Database Searching Tips


Periodicals are all the various types of publications that are produced on a regular schedule - Journals, Magazines, Newspapers, etc.


  • a collection of articles or other material such as reports, proceedings, or transactions issued by a society, an organization, or an institution
  • typically published on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly schedule
  • report original research or experimentation and are focused on a particular field (business, history, nursing, etc.)
  • are written by and for scholars in the field
  • use terminology (words, jargon, buzzwords) that is familiar to professionals in the field
  • use a plain format, and there may be photographs, graphs, or charts that refer back to the information being discussed
  • cite sources, usually in the form of footnotes, end notes, or bibliographies.
  • many scholarly journals are also refereed or peer reviewed journals
  • examples include: Academy of Management Journal, Applied Psycholgoy in Criminal Justice, and American Journal of Nursing

Refereed or Peer Reviewed

  • Peer-reviewed and refereed are synonyms. In peer-reviewed journals, articles are examined by experts in the field to determine their merit.
  • These experts read the work and determine the accuracy of statements made, citations, etc.
  • Peer reviewed journals are often scholarly in nature, but may also be trade journals and reviewed by people who work in a particular field – chemistry, automotive, etc.


  • publications containing a variety of articles generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, or both Magazines are typically published on a weekly or monthly schedule.
  • Examples include: Newsweek, Business Week, Fortune, and Time.


  • serial publications issued either daily, on certain days of the week, or weekly
  • contain news, editorial comment, regular columns, letters to the editor, cartoons, advertising, and other items of current and often local interest to a general readership
  • Examples include: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Asheboro Courier-Tribune.

Trade publications

  • intended for people who work in a particular industry
  • do not tend to be scholarly in nature, but will use terminology (words, jargon, buzzwords) that are familiar to people who work in a particular field
  • Examples include:  Police Chief, Outdoor Photographer, and Architectural Digest.

Article Formats

Bound/Print/Hard Copy

  • These articles will be in a periodical that you can actually hold in your hand.
  • You will need to use a photocopier or a scanner if you want to take the article with you.
  • In RCC Library these are located in the Newspapers and Periodicals sections.
  • These are arranged alphabetically by the title (of the journal, magazine, etc., not the article title).
  • Bound items may look like a book, but inside are the actual individual magazines in date order.
  • Remember to ask if you have trouble finding it!

Microfiche (flat) and Microfilm (rolls)

  • These were a common way to reduce large amounts of text, such as a journal issue, into a smaller format that took up less space.
  • Most universities and large college libraries have microfiche and microfilm collections.
  • Special machines are required in order to read these items.
  • Items on fiche or film can be printed.


  • stands for "portable document format"
  • A special reader needs to be on the computer in order to read it. The most common is Adobe Reader.
  • If you do not have the software on your computer, it can be downloaded and installed for free.
  • This is a common format used in databases because it is created by scanning the print version of the article into the format. PDF articles include page numbers, which are extremely useful when citing your source.

html and text

  • These articles will be online and sometimes in library databases.
  • do not require special software (other than a web browser) in order to read
  • are often a better format for text to audio programs
  • Articles in this format contain mostly text--no page numbers, like articles in pdf.
  • are a common form for newspaper articles.