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CHIN 104: Advanced Chinese: Readings in Literature

About search tools (AKA databases)

Before you can read an article, you will have to feel your way through some pretty user unfriendly library systems to find articles. Google searches can feed you sources. Google Scholar is better at making sure these are academic. But the algorithmic processes these tools operate on make invisible some of the context you might gain from interacting with library tools/databases, even if this approach is more laborious or cumbersome. 

How to engage the tools

As I mentioned previously, the library systems used to find sources are cumbersome and clunky. To gain a context for a subject through these tools, I'm proposing the following approaches for finding secondary sources:

  1. Academic Journals
  2. Journal Archives
  3. Subject Indexes
  4. Discovery Tools

Academic Journals 

From the student perspective, it's more common to encounter a journal article rather than the full journal issue or the journal over time (multiple volumes).

Unbundled from the full issue, an individual article's title will hint at a tightly focused study. This can appear like exactly the thing you need to read or completely unrelated. As a student reader, discerning the difference is not easy.

Looking at the whole journal sheds light on the way these individual articles come together as an issue or perhaps a special issue or a specialized journal: themes will emerge; key scholars will emerge; conventions of the discipline or methodologies will emerge; and so on.

Start at the Journal's websites to interact with all the journal has to offer. You can view the individual issues or search across all the issues.


To discover more journals, use the following journal directories:

Journal Archives 

This type of database contains a fixed set of journals across all the discplines and includes their full contents. You can search across thousands of journals at one time from a variety of disciplines. This can lead to results that list thousands of articles. To reduce the amount of results,  it is helpful to make use of the search features.

Subject Indexes 

This type of database provides comprehensive coverage of a subject or discpline and usually contains only the article's abstract and citation details. This can make searching for articles challenging. The search terms you use will have to match the title, abstract or subject headings of the articles indexed by the database. You will have to retrieve articles using the UCeLinks tool.

Discovery Tools 

This type of database provides a one-search type of experience because it presents results from across different databases.