BSC - Finding Articles in Academic Search Complete

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Welcome! This tutorial will provide instructions on how to find different types of articles with Academic Search Complete, one of the Library's most popular databases.

In this tutorial, you will be able to use Academic Search Complete to:

  • Create effective search queries
  • Use simple and advanced features to find the most appropriate sources for your research
  • Evaluate the results of your searches

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"Finding Articles in Academic Search Complete" was adapted from "Finding Articles (Research Roadmap)" by The University of Vermont Libraries

Academic Search Complete

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Academic Search Complete is an excellent database for:

  • Scholarly and non-scholarly information: It contains several important types of publications, including scholarly journals, newspapers and substantive, trade and professional publications.

  • Broad subject coverage: It contains information from most subjects in the humanities, fine arts, social sciences, natural and applied sciences.

  • Full-text access: Most of the articles come with instant access to the full text. Some articles have only some publication details, though the Library can help you access these, too.

  • User-friendly features: It is designed for researchers with all levels of experience.
Journal covers, all published by Wiley

Academic Search Complete

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Where to Find Academic Search Complete
Let's find Academic Search Complete. Using the Butler Library homepage at right:

1. Look for Find in the main menu.

2. Click Databases A-Z.

3. From the list of databases, scroll down to Academic Search Complete or type it in the search box at the top of the page. When you click the link, it will open in a new window. 


Databases A-Z list, scroll or search

You should now see the Academic Search Complete search screen.

Academic Search Complete search screen

(You can magnify images in this tutorial by clicking on them.)

Think Ahead for Better Results

Before we search, think about what kinds of sources you need. Do you need scholarly or popular? Articles or books? Historical information?

Different types of articles have different characteristics that make them appropriate for different kinds of research.

Knowing the type of sources you need in advance will determine how you search.

Different Articles for Different Needs

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Let's take a look at the types of resources found in databases:

  • Popular publications: Written for a general audience.

  • Substantive, trade & professional publications: Written for practitioners, professionals, and people with an advanced interest.

  • Scholarly publications: Written by academic experts for other experts.

You can access each type of article in databases like Academic Search Complete.

Different Articles for Different Needs

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Academic research normally requires you to use scholarly sources ... but you might also need popular or substantive, trade or professional sources.

Why might you use non-scholarly sources?

Getting Started

Let's search Academic Search Premier, using the topic of skepticism towards science.

A simple keyword search is a good way to quickly see what information is available.

1. Type the keywords science and skepticism OR scepticism into the first two fields why "OR"? why separate fields?

Screenshot of search query

2. Click Search.

How many results did you get?

Improving search results in Academic Search Complete

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When we search for a broad topic, we can expect to get an overwhelming number of results - including many items that are not relevant to our search.

Databases like Academic Search Premier give us several options for improving our results.

First, let's make our query more specific by focusing on skepticism toward climate change among students.

  • Change science to "climate change" (including the quotation marks why quotation marks?).
  • Add students to the third field.
  • Click Search.

Improving search results in Academic Search Complete

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Second, let's search only for scholarly articles.

  • In the left-side column, check Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) JournalsWhy not check "Academic Journals"?

How many results did you get for this improved search?

Improving search results in Academic Search Complete

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Now that we have improved the parameters of our search, we can move on to reviewing the results.

It's essential to scan at least the first page. In a database like Academic Search Complete, the best items might not be at the top.

Scan the titles for relevant articles. If a title looks interesting, hover on the abstract icon: Magnifier icon.

This will help you decide whether an article would be useful for your research.

Improving search results in Academic Search Complete

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Scroll through the results until you find the article titled Overcoming skepticism with education: interacting influences...

Results list record for article "Overcoming skepticism with education"

Having trouble?

Our research topic is skepticism toward climate change among students. Hover over the magnifying glass icon and read the abstract. Is this article an appropriate source for our topic?

Improving search results in Academic Search Complete

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Successful research usually involves multiple searches, adjusting your keywords and your search parameters each time until you find sources that are relevant, scholarly, and up to date.

If your search doesn't have the information you need, change the scope of your search by revising your keywords.


  • Broader terms (science, environment)
  • Narrower terms (science literacy, climatology)
  • Synonyms (global warming, science denial)

Improving search results in Academic Search Complete

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Also try searching for subject terms - these are keywords for categories of articles, similar to how hashtags work on social media.

Look again at Overcoming skepticism with education: interacting influences... We can see that this article's Subjects include SKEPTICISM.

Here's how we can make use of this:

  • Revise the search by adding SKEPTICISM and using the dropdown menu to select SU Subject Terms (see the screenshot).
  • Click on Search.
Image of search query using SU Subject Terms

Now we have an even smaller results set with a higher level of relevance to our topic.

Finding the full text

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Earlier in this tutorial, we noted that research databases sometimes contain published sources and sometimes contain citations - information about published sources. Academic Search Complete contains both.

When you find an article that you want to use, look for "full text" options.

If there is no full text, look for a Find It button.

Find It button

If the Library has the article, Find It will guide you to the full text.

If the Library does not have the article, it will guide you through the steps for requesting an interlibrary loan (ILL). (This is a free service provided by the Library, learn more about creating an account and submitting a request.)

Finding the full text

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If it is difficult to find appropriate sources in Academic Search Complete, you may need to broaden your search by using ALLsearch.

ALLsearch is a search engine that can help you find almost everything the library owns or has access to. In ALLsearch, you can search for books, articles, videos, and more.

It’s like the library’s version of Google.

Learn more by visiting the following tutorial, Finding Scholarly Sources.

How Do I Save My Sources?

Found an article that has the information you need? Great! The next step is reading the article - though you should read it strategically, beginning by scanning key sections like the introduction and conclusion.

If you want to save an article for later, there are several ways to do this in Academic Search Complete.Academic Search Complete Tools column

1. Click the title of the first article in your results list.

2. Find the right-side Tools column.

3. Find the E-mail feature: this allows you to email an article to yourself.

4. Now find the Permalink feature: this link allows you to return to this webpage whenever you want.

The Tools column has more options for saving your articles. Use the ones that work best for you!

Subject databases

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Academic Search Complete and ALLsearch are multidisciplinary resources. They contain articles on most subjects and are excellent for starting your research and for working on interdisciplinary topics.

Once you have identified your topic and done some reading, you may be ready to delve deeper by using a subject database.

Subject databases

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To find subject databases:

  • Go back to Databases A-Z (remember, look under Find from the library's homepage).
  • Use the Browse by Subject dropdown menu to navigate to a specific subject.
  • Use the Browse by Type dropdown menu to select article databases.
  • Look for a green 'Recommended' icon - this indicates a Suggested Starting Point for this subject.

Let's go back to our topic of climate change skepticism. Which of these databases is the Suggested Starting Point for research on Environment topics?

Subject databases

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Understanding which disciplines (subjects) address your topic can be challenging so don't hesitate to ask a librarian for recommendations.


Academic Search Complete is a valuable resource for finding scholarly information on a wide range of subjects. Hopefully, this guide was a helpful introduction and you feel confident in using this database.

Continue to the next page to take a quiz. At the end of the quiz, you will be able to create your tutorial certificate.

Need Help? Ask Us.

Ask a librarian

Butler Librarians are available to assist you with your research. Ask a librarian for help!


Academic Search Complete is a recommended resource for finding which kind of information?

It's important to use keywords when you use a database like Academic Search Complete. Which of these search queries uses keywords? 

Look at the details of this scholarly article on gaming addiction. What is the name of the publication?

Which of these strategies should you use if your search results are not relevant to your topic?

Continue to the next page to create your tutorial certificate.


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