index contains "references" or "bibliographic
citations" to journal articles. All indexes may be
searched by subject and author, and most computerized
indexes can also be searched by keyword, date and
are produced in both print and computerized formats.
The Howard University Libraries have many indexes
in computerized format. Some topics however will require
the use of CD-ROM or print indexes. Go to the Howard
University (HU) Libraries home page to see the list of
CD-ROM databases available in The Founders Library, Reference
reference librarians can help you select the best index
for your search.
can also go to the HU Libraries home page and check
the list of electronic journals or consult one of our
research guides to identify the major indexes and other
sources for particular subjects.
Search for the Topic Define your search.
out the topic in a complete sentence.
Example: I need information on the
characteristics of successful women leaders.
the topic into concepts.
Concept A: women
Concept B: characteristics
Concept C: leaders
synonyms or related terms for each concept.
Concept A: women - synonyms: woman, female, females
Concept B: characteristics - synonyms: traits, attributes,
Concept C: leaders - synonyms: managers, supervisors
your search, using the appropriate Boolean operators,
truncation symbols and parentheses. The Boolean operator
or is used between synonyms.
Boolean operator and is used between
truncation symbol (usually * or ?) is used to retrieve
all words that begin with that stem, including
the plurals of words. The truncation symbol can
also be used to represent a letter within a word. (example: m?n
will retrieve man, men)
are used to group synonyms for a concept.
wom?n or female?) and (manager? or leader?
or supervisor?) and (characteristic? or trait? or style?)
PsycLit is the database used in this example.
the bibliographic citations found by your search and look
at the subject heading fields of useful articles.
subject headings in relevant citations will help you identify
the best subject headings or other terminology that should
also be searched. Most databases list the subject headings
for each record in the "descriptor" field (DE).
In the sample search, it was discovered that leadership,
leadership style, management personnel, and personality
traits are additional subject headings (descriptors)
that could be used for this search. It was also found
that human females could be used instead
of wom?n or female? The
search terms used for the concepts of characteristic?,
and trait? worked well for finding the
new search to incorporate these terms.
human females and management personnel and (leadership
style or leadership or characteristic? or trait?)
the Information in the Citation
indexes usually label each component of the citation; however,
generally do not. Each bibliographic citation contains the
title of the article
title of the journal (some indexes use abbreviations)
volume number (some journals do not use volume numbers)
issue number (some journals do not number individual issues)
pages on which the article appears
date of the journal
summary or abstract of the article may also be present
in some databases the full text of the article might be
the complete bibliographic citation for each useful article.
For computerized databases, all library workstations permit
printing and downloading onto a floppy disc.
Determine If the Item You Need Is available in the HU Libraries
the journal title is abbreviated, get the full title of
the journal. There are several ways to do this:
the citations are from a printed index, look for journal
list in the front of the first volume for that year.
the citations are from a computerized index, ask a
reference librarian to help you find the complete
to Sterling, the online catalog to see if the title is
housed in one of the HU Libraries. If so, check to
note the location and format (paper copy or microform).
of negro education.
search request results in two entries found.
on the title to display the record.
next screen shows the library location, the volumes and
issues owned by a particular library unit, and indicates
if the title is available on microfilm.
journal title is not in Sterling and you know the specific
article you need, you may fill out an interlibrary
loan (ILL) form to obtain the article from another library. Turnaround
time varies. However, allow at least fourteen days.
Locate the Item
of the HU Libraries has a separate shelving area for current
journals and bound journals.
with the librarians or shelving guides for the library
that you are using to find these locations.
determine whether the journal is over a year old. If it
is, check to see if it is bound or on microfilm; if not,
try the current periodicals.
find a journal on the shelf? Look to see if the journal
is mis-shelved or in the sorting area. If you still
can't find the journal, ask a staff member in the Current
Periodicals area for help.
difficulty finding citations or articles? Ask a reference
Basic Steps in the Research Process
Suggestions for Finding a Topic
Search for Specific Types of Materials
Find Books by Call Numbers