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Library Orientation Tutorial: Unit 3.1: About Periodical Databases

Read: Introduction to Periodicals and Online Periodical Databases

What are periodicals?

As you learned earlier in this tutorial, periodicals are publications such as magazines, journals, and newspapers.  They can be an excellent source for information on many topics that you may find useful in your academic career or leisure time.  Learning to find information efficiently in periodicals is a valuable skill, not only as a student conducting research but also when locating information on the job or for personal use.

When are periodicals useful?

Magazines and newspapers are published more frequently than books and often provide the most current information, such as research, financial data, and current events. 

What is a scholarly journal?

You may be asked to include articles from scholarly journals in your assignments.  Scholarly articles are typically written by professionals for the purpose of sharing research within their field and are almost always peer-reviewed (meaning the quality of the article has been validated for by professionals in the same field).  Articles from scholarly journals usually (but not always) include: 

  • A section explaining the method of research.
  • Other work cited throughout the article.
  • A list of works referenced at the end.
  • Charts or graphs that illustrate data. 

 View this interactive, visual aid to learn more about the anatomy of a scholarly article. 

How do I find information in periodicals?

It would be difficult and time-consuming to look at the table of contents of hundreds of periodicals to find information on a specific topic.  Periodical databases save time by providing searchable interfaces for locating relevant articles.  A periodical database is a frequently updated collection of articles from magazines, newspapers, and journals.  Periodical databases are usually searchable by title, author, subject, and keyword.  Some databases provide access to complete articles while some give article abstracts (the article summary), and some databases provide only article citations, which provide users with all the information needed to locate complete articles.

Watch: Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals Video

To learn more about and see examples of scholarly journals, visit the Library’s webpage on Analyzing Resources or view this video provided courtesy of the Peabody Library at Vanderbilt University.

Read: Periodical Databases at Pellissippi State Libraries

The Pellissippi State Libraries provide access to over 100 databases.  Some of these databases are general in scope, such as Academic OneFile, while others are more subject-oriented, such as Health and Wellness Resource Center.  Click here for a complete list of databases. 


Where do I find periodical databases?

There are several ways to access the periodical databases from the Library’s website.  One way is to go to the library home page and select Find, and then Databases A-Z, from the menu along the top.    

Image of library homepage, showing where to access the library databases.

The Databases A-Z page is sorted alphabetically by database name. Here you can browse by database or use the drop-down menus at the top of the list to browse by Subjects, Database Types, or Vendors/Providers. Selecting a subject area will provide an alphabetical list of databases which focus on or include resources on that subject area.

Images of Databases A-Z page.

Another way is to locate subject-related databases through our research guides. Research guides can be accessed on the library home page by selecting the Research Guides icon. This will take you to a list of all our research guides. From there select a subject area or course guide; once on the guide, you can view databases related to that subject area.

Image showing the location of research guides on the library home page.

Off-Campus Access:

You can access OneSearch and all of the library's electronic resources (ebooks, audiobooks, streaming video, etc.) from off campus. 

When you select an electronic resource from the list of search results in OneSearch, you will be prompted to log in (as seen in Unit 1.3), before you can view the resource.