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Controversial topics

Resources and tips for researching and writing about issues

Using databases to search in specific subject areas

Find out what specialized sets of resources the library subscribes to. Use these for finding information or writings about a certain subject area--such as the Environment.

Visit the Databases page and enter your subject into the search box at the right.

Example: a search for "environment" will result in about eight different databases.

Want a suggestion?  Below are links to databases both general and subject-based. If you need help, be sure to ask a librarian!

Tips on searching in article databases

A database is a collection of digitized information. Think of it as a digital filing cabinet. In the case of an article database, it collects articles from many sources in a certain area of study or by a certain format (newspaper articles or scholarly journals).

  • Tip 1: the terms "scholarly", "academic", "peer reviewed", and/or "juried" all mean the same thing. These kinds of articles are written by scholars in the subject, reviewed and analyzed by other scholars before publication, and intended for reading by scholars in the subject area.
  • Tip 2: start with background research. A Reference book/resource would be great for this.
  • Tip 3: identify the keywords used in the debate about your topic. "Climate change" will return different results than "global warming"

Databases tag each individual item with various kinds of information so it can be called up in a search. When searching a database, try your search term (keyword) to see if there's an auto-complete function. This function will often recognize the beginning of your search term and then show you the terms used by the database.

When searching, you can:

  • combine terms with Boolean operators : AND, OR, NOT
  • use quotes to search for specific phrases: "climate change" instead of just climate or change
  • narrow by date, publication, author, format, scholarly 

You can also filter from the search results page. Look for a menu usually to the left or at the top of the page.


Developing a topic and want some guidance? Try this project planning guide from the SAGE Research Methods database.

Multi-subject article databases

Environmental issues

Women's and Gender Studies

Historical newspapers