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Scholarly Sources: Where can I find scholarly articles?

Find out what scholarly and popular sources are, how to identify them, and why it matters.

Where to find scholarly articles

The best places to find scholarly articles are:

  • OneSearch (the library catalog)OneSearch searches almost all of our databases with just one search, so you don't have to go to an individual database to search.
  • Individual databases: some databases have a specific focus or subject, while others can be used for any topic. CU has over 100 different databases! Learn more about databases below.
  • Google Scholar: like Google, but just academic content. This is a powerful search engine, but it has many drawbacks that make it better for those who are willing to do some set-up before using it, and some extra work evaluating if a source is scholarly. See below for more information.

What is a database?

A database is a specialized website for finding scholarly or academic articles (the kind of articles your professors expect you to use). Databases allow you to access content that is normally hidden behind a paywall. In other words, the library pays for databases so you don't have to pay for the articles you need.

The most important thing to remember about databases is that they don't work the same way as Google. Searching successfully in databases requires a lot of practice, so don't get frustrated if you are having trouble. That's totally normal! If you run up against any difficulty, just ask a librarian for help (that's what we are here for!). 

Why can't I just use Google?

Google is a great tool. It works so well, that we don't even have to think to be able to use it! That's a nice thing to have for every day life, but if we only use Google, we will 1) never learn how to use other tools, which require much more sophisticated skill and practice, and 2) we might miss out on finding scholarly articles.

If you are dedicated to using Google, try using Google Scholar instead.

Search using OneSearch

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Tip: When looking for scholarly articles, it is helpful to check the filter box for peer-reviewed articles, to eliminate some results which might not be scholarly. You can also filter for the format "articles" and for availability, or any other criteria your professor might have given you. 

Need more help using OneSearch? Ask a Librarian or search our FAQs or research guides.

Search for books to request via interlibrary loan.

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Search using databases

Since this is a general guide, we do not have databases listed. The best way to find a database to search in is to visit our A-Z Database page.

  1. Go to the A-Z Databases page
  2. Select your subject from the dropdown to see all the databases which have articles from that discipline. 
  3. Select one of the "Best Bets" databases when available (look for the yellow box at the top), or any of the other databases
  4. Start searching the database 

Tip: Look for a filter for peer-reviewed articles. Peer-reviewed articles should be considered scholarly in almost every situation.

Need more help using databases? Ask a Librarian or search our FAQs or research guides.

Search using Google Scholar

Before you start using Google Scholar, you need to change the settings in Google Scholar so that results will link to the full-text of the articles that CU pays for (so you don't hit that paywall!).

To change your settings (it's easy!), watch this quick
 2 minute video or follow the instructions here.


Even though it's called Google Scholar, not everything that you find will be guaranteed to meet your professor's expectations. It's important to review each article individually to see if it meets the criteria to be considered scholarly.

Google Scholar Search
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