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Library Guide for Transfer Students

Help for new transfer students about resources and services from the U-M Library.

Developing Keywords

The first rule to developing a successful research plan is brainstorming a list of keywords. Breaking down your topic or research question into different keywords will help you find relevant sources quickly and easily.

Not sure how to start? Check out the library's Research Question Generator for help developing keywords.

Human hand that is finishing writing the word Keyword in light blue

Finding Articles

What Are Library Databases?

Library databases are primarily used to find and read journal articles published on a particular topic. Library databases are especially useful to find scholarly, academic, or peer-reviewed articles for papers or projects. 

In addition to journal articles, some databases can be used to find newspaper and magazine articles, dissertations, and other reports.

Screenshot of library website's frequently used database list

Which Databases Are Helpful?

The library provides hundreds of databases over a multitude of topics or subjects which can be found in Browsing Databases in Library Search. When beginning to look for articles or if you have a research question that includes multiple subjects, multi-subject databases can be a good place to start. If you're looking for sources on a particular topic or subject, subject specific databases will be the best to use. Below is a list of some of the most popular multi-subject and subject specific databases that you can use to start your research.

Multi-Subject Databases

  • Library Articles Search: Searches the majority of the library's databases for scholarly articles, newspaper articles, and more.

  • ProQuest Research Library: Great place to start your research by searching over 5,000 academic journals, popular journals and magazines.

  • JSTOR: Provides full-text access to core scholarly journals in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Subject Databases

PsycINFO: Contains journal articles, book chapters, books, dissertations, and reports in the field of psychology.

Sociological Abstracts: Provides access to international literature in sociology and related fields.

Web of Science: Searches multiple databases related to sciences and social sciences.

Project Muse: Full text access to scholarly journals and e-books in the humanities and social sciences.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Access to historical articles of 11 U.S. and 2 U.K. newspapers including New York Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune.

America History and Life: Covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistory to present.

MLA International Bibliography: Searches books and articles published on modern languages, literature, folklore, and film.

Project Muse: Full text access to scholarly journals and e-books in the humanities and social sciences

Engineering Village: Access to over 5000 journals, conference proceedings and technical reports in engineering and applied science.

Scopus: Covers journals, patents, and websites for scientific, medical, technical, and social sciences.

Web of Science: Searches multiple databases related to sciences and social sciences.

PubMed: Searches biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.

Global Health: Public health database that provides information on international health, biomedical life sciences, non-communicable diseases, and more.

CINAHL Complete: Great database for nursing and allied health professions.

ERIC: Database from the U.S. Department of Education providing extensive access to educational-related literature.

Education Abstracts: Covers a wide range of education topics including adult education, multicultural education, and teaching methods.

Higher Education Abstracts: Abstracts from journals, conference proceedings, and research reports.

Educational Administration Abstracts: Database covering areas related to educational administration, including educational leadership.

ABI/INFORM Collection: Searches 3,000+ business related sources including the Wall Street Journal.

Gale Business Insights Global: Compiled information on U.S. and international businesses, industries, and products.

Mergent Online: Provides access to current and historical financial information on 15,000 US and 20,000 foreign companies.

Citing Sources

Stick figure holding sign that reads "citation needed"

Why Cite?

It is important to cite sources you use in a paper to assure other people will be able to access the same information and to avoid committing plagiarism. Citing also helps build the credibility of your paper and validation of your ideas by demonstrating how you engaged with other scholars' ideas and conversations.

More information about how and why to cite can be found on in the guides below.

Additional Research Help

For additional help research help feel free to contact the U-M Library's Ask a Librarian service, find a subject specialist in your program or school, or visit the guides below: