Skip to Main Content

UAL: Unit for Academic Literacy: Assignment help

How to search for academic journal articles

How to search for academic journal articles for your assignment

Step 1: Tell the librarian what your perspective (starting point) is

Courses presented at university are grouped under faculties - e.g. Economic and Management Sciences (EMS); Humanities; Law; etc. - and departments - e.g. Taxation, Philosophy, Mercantile Law, etc.

You must first identify what your particular perspective is - where you are coming from. Provide the librarian with this vital information to help her help you to the best of her ability. E.g.:

"I am a student (1) in the faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) and I need (2) to complete an assignment for (3) ALL 124. (4) The topic of my assignment is: "The UN’s sustainable development goal 8, target six states: " By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training" Considering that we are in 2021, and have passed the target year, would you agree or disagree that the South African Government has been able to lower the unemployment rate and met this set target? In your argument consider mitigating factors such as the national inflation levels and the impact of the pandemic in 2020." 

Now the librarian knows quite a number of things that make it easier for her to assist.

1) student is registered in EMS

2) student needs help with an assignment (not a thesis or dissertation)

3) student is registered for ALL 124, a module that is run by the UAL, which falls under the Faculty of Humanities

4) what the specific assignment topic is: get an academic journal article about progress made with sustainable development goal number 8 in South Africa

All this background information allows the librarian better to frame her response to a query for help!

She would suggest that students take the following steps in a case like this - an assignment in ALL 124 asking students to find an academic journal article within the EMS context:

1) Go to the library homepage.

2) Point to Services in the top third of the page, resulting in a drop-down menu. Choose Training to open the list of Training offerings.

2(a) On the left, click on Training Sessions Schedule. Register for all of the following - and make sure you attend them!

(i) Introduction on library products and services

(ii) Introduction to Databases

(iii) Anti-Plagiarism

2 (b). Download the Library Orientation Brochure and use it to help you understand how things work in the library!

2 (c). Watch the Tutorials and videos. In particular, watch the following video: How to find journal articles by topic

3) Go to the Search box, and remain on the Everything tab.

3 (a).  Type your search terms in the search box. (Example: ("sdg 8" OR "sustainable development goal 8" OR "sustainable development goal number 8") AND ("South Africa") Click on submit.

3 (b)  Now filter the search results (1) first to articles, then (2) to peer reviewed, then (3) to University of Pretoria libraries.

3 (c). You should hopefully have found some suitable articles by now. Click on the hyperlinked article titles to open the records.

4) Get to know the recommended databases for your faculty and department, for the subjects you are studying. Identify the multidisciplinary databases from the more focused, subject-related databases. Identify the databases that should be consulted for a Southern African focus. Find out who is the information specialist (subject librarian) for your department, so that you can ask her/him some of these questions from the perspective of the department you are getting your lectures from (e.g. Taxation).

5) Practice searching Worldcat Discovery (the library system) - also called "the catalogue" for short.

6) Search Google ONLY by using the Google Scholar tab on the library homepage.

7) Ask for undergraduate support from or use ASK / CHAT TO A LIBRARIAN on the library homepage.

8) Make contact with me - the information specialist (subject librarian) for the languages, where Unit for Academic Literacy belongs.