This tutorial will introduce you to two databases: Academic Search Premier and JSTOR. Use these databases to find articles from popular and scholarly journals on a variety of topics. Both of these databases are good places to start when looking for articles for a research paper.

Use the arrows below to navigate sequentially through the tutorial or use the Contents button above to skip between sections. The left side of the screen contains instructions, the right side contains a web page that you control.

Selecting a Database

 Your choice of database depends on your needs. If you know the title of a database, then going to the Database page from the library home page is a good choice. If you would like guidance to find databases in particular areas (History, Sociology, Art, Biology, etc.), then use the Guides page.

Choosing Databases from the Library homepage

Click on the Databases tab to see the list of databases.

Academic Search Premier

If you select any of these databases, and are off-campus, you will be asked to authenticate with your Macalester username and password. However, authentication causes some issues with this tutorial, so please use this direct link to explore: Academic Search Premier.

Academic Search Premier is an interdisciplinary database with both full text and citation-only articles from popular and scholarly publications. It is a good place to start library research.

You should now be seeing the EBSCOhost search box on the right screen. (EBSCO is the company that created Academic Search Premier.)

Academic Search Premier searchbox

Academic Search Premier: Searching

Enter keywords (important words for your search) into the search box rather than sentences. For example, enter no child left behind louisiana rather than no child left behind in louisiana schools

Go ahead and type: no child left behind louisiana into the search box.

Note that you can limit your search to fulltext or Scholarly (peer reviewed) journals. We recommend searching everything first and then limiting your results, but these options are available.

Limiting searches in Academic Search Premier

Academic Search Premier: Results List

You should see about 27 articles that match your search terms. On the left side of the screen are ways to limit your results, a list of the types of publications found, and other information about your search results.

As you scroll through the results, note icons telling you about the publication ("Periodical" or "Newspaper" mean popular press; "Academic journal" means scholarly press.)

You will also see links for "HTML full text" or PDF full text". This indicates that you can see the full article in this database. Instead, you might see the orange MacLinks button. That means the full text is not in this database, but it might be in another of our databases, in our paper collection in the Library, or only available through interlibrary loan. When you are on campus, you will use the MacLinks button all the time.

Click on the article title: "The Ironies of School Choice" and go to the next slide.

Academic Search Premier: Article Record

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When you have the full record of an article on the screen, you have much more information available. To the left side you will see either full text or the MacLinks button.

Detailed Record options on the screen

Click on the MacLinks button to explore your options. (A new tab will open up.)

Back at the article record, you may also see if this article has been cited by more recent articles. This is helpful in following a conversation on a topic through the scholarly literature.

Academic Search Premier: Article Record

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In the center of the screen, you have the full citation information (author, article title, publication, date, pages), Subject Terms for further exploration on this topic, and an Abstract that describes the article's content.

Detailed Record Information

Academic Search Premier: Article Record

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To the right of the screen you have options for exporting, printing, emailing, and citing the article, along with a few other options.

Explore the citation options. (Remember when using this feature that it is much like spell check in a word processing program: it needs to be checked and re-checked before using it in a paper.)

Exporting options within Academic Search Premier

Databases: JSTOR

To explore other databases, you would normally go to the Database page on the Library web site. But, again, we will ask you to use this direct link to explore JSTOR.

JSTOR is a collection of fulltext articles from scholarly journals. Content from the journals is available from the first issue of that journal to, usually, the last 2-5 years. Therefore, articles are not current in JSTOR, but they are of a high academic quality.

JSTOR link on library web site

JSTOR: Searching

You can search JSTOR with keywords, but keep in mind that you will retrieve records that include the words anywhere within the article. So, a search on no child left behind will retrieve articles with each of those words anywhere in the full article content, although the phrase will be pushed to the top of the results list. Using quotation marks will lower your results ("no child left behind")

Because you can be overwhelmed with your results, we recommend using the Advanced Search features. Click on the option for Advanced Search in JSTOR, right below the search box.

Link to Advanced Search in JSTOR

JSTOR: Advanced Search

On the Advanced Search screen you can put multiple words and phrases into your search (such as no child left behind AND louisiana), tell the database where to search for the words (title, abstract, full content), select the types of articles you are interested in, and select the areas of study the publications should come from.

Enter the following search: "no child left behind" in the first box; louisiana in the second box. Scroll down and select to only search journals in Education and in Political Science.

When you click on the blue search box, you should see about 289 articles as a result.

JSTOR: Result List

Looking at your result list, you have many options. You an scroll through the articles, selecting the ones you want to look at. Note that the articles are in a "relevancy" order--what JSTOR thinks is most relevant to you. You can rearrange the order, if you wish.

You can read the article online or you can download a PDF for viewing and/or printing.

Click on the article "Rebels and Their Causes: State Resistance to No Child Left Behind"

JSTOR: Individual Article

At the article level, you again have options for printing/downloading, exporting and citing. You also see an image of the journal, and an image of the article as it appeared in the journal.

For navigating, you have thumbnails of the article pages, or you can jump directly to the references.

Image of JSTOR article


In this tutorial, you have learned how to choose database titles through the Library's web site. You have explored two databases: Academic Search Premier and JSTOR. You have learned how to search for and view articles on a topic. Both databases are excellent places to begin a literature search for a paper or project.

Keep in mind that these databases are just a starting point. When you are working on a paper or project, you will use a variety of databases, some highly specialized for your area of study.

Please feel free to explore the Library's databases. If you have any questions, whether at home or at Mac, please don't hesitate to AskUs.

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