ProQuest is one of the "big three" full-text article databases. This is a good database to become familiar with. You will be able to find all kinds of articles in ProQuest.
ProQuest is actually a collection of different databases. You can search the databases all at the same time, or individually.
1) Searching ProQuest
Once you log onto ProQuest, you will be taken to the basic search screen. You can type search terms into the search box. ProQuest automatically searches all of your search terms. So if you type in "hot dog," it will find articles containing both "hot" and "dog."
Also be sure to check off the box for "full text" articles. If you don't check off this box, your search results will contain both "full text" articles, and "abstract only" articles. Here is the difference between "full text" articles and "abstract only":
Full text articles are exactly as the name sounds: articles with which you get the "full text"—the whole thing.
Abstract only means that you only get the abstract, which is a brief summary or description of the article, but you don't actually get the article itself. You just get a preview of it.
So make sure you check off "full text" before you do your search.
2) Search results
Once you conduct a search, you will be taken to the search results screen. Your search results are located down the page.
Notice that there is a "suggested subjects" box at the top, above your search results. You can click on any of the suggested subjects and ProQuest will redo the search for you, using these suggested subject terms from the box.
At the top of the page are ways that you can limit your search results. Notice that you can choose to limit the search results by source type. If you want to just look at newspaper articles, for example, or just magazine articles, there's a way to limit it to just these types of articles.
Your search results should tell you basic information about the articles on the list.
3) Search results details
Each item on your list should be an article or another type of short information source. Remember that articles, like songs on iTunes, are all part of a bigger publication called a print periodical. It's important to know not only what the article is, but which particular print periodical it comes from. The information you need is all on the search results screen.
Here is an article record broken down for you in detail:
This article is called "Thoughts about Virginia Tech," and it is an article about the Virginia Tech school shooting that happened in 2007.
-John F. McManus is the author.
-The New American is the publication title. The publication title is the name of the print periodical—the magazine, newspaper, or journal—that the article was published in.
-23.10 is the volume and issue number of that print periodical. (Volume is 23, issue is 10).
-44 is the page number.
-May 14, 2007 was the publication date.
So, this means that this article, called "Thoughts About Virginia Tech," showed up on page 44 of the May 14, 2007 issue of The New American (which was Volume 23, Issue 10).
To open the article, click on the icon for "Full Text" or "Full text – PDF" (which will open the article as a PDF file).
4) Reading an article
There are two formats for articles in ProQuest. The first is the "Full Text" format, which is a plain text version of the article.
The plain text version of the article is unformatted. It's just a bunch of text. Usually this version excludes any pictures or graphics that the article might have had when it was published in print.
At the top of the screen you will notice the tools you can use to print the article, email it to yourself, and/or cite the article.
The article itself begins below the abstract about halfway down the screen.
In addition to the plain text version of the article, most full text articles in ProQuest also have a "full text – PDF" format as well. Not every article has the PDF format. The important thing to remember is that as long as you have the plain text format, then you are still dealing with a full text article.
A full-text PDF is an exact, scanned copy of the article, as though you had the magazine or newspaper sitting right in front of you. It looks exactly as it appears in the print publication that it comes from. In this case you will often have a full color article containing pictures, graphs, columns, etc.
The PDF article will load using Adobe Reader, which should embed the article below the article tools. Just like with a plain-text article, you can print, email, cite, or save the article.
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