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Tips for Navigating Owen Library - Johnstown Campus: Finding Articles

Don't get lost in Owen Library! Learn how to find and access various resources & services available at Owen Library or through Pitt's University Library System.


A database is a searchable online collection or index of items. There are general, multidisciplinary databases as well as subject specific databases with a narrower scope or coverage. Library databases are great sources for journal articles because much of the material in them is the authoritative, credible information that most professors want. Of course, you should always evaluate the information you find within the context of your research need and the requirements of your assignment. . . even if it's in a library database! Most of the databases available through the ULS offer links to the full text of articles. If not, you may be able to access the full text through another database or in a printed copy held in a Pitt library.  To search a database:

  • If you know the name of the database you want to search, start at the Databases A-Z list. 
  • If you’re not sure which database to search, you can select databases in a particular Subject from the top drop-down menu or ask a librarian for guidance .

How do I choose search terms?

Once you have narrowed down your topic and come up with the research question your paper will explore, identify the main concepts in your query. Use these concepts as your search terms (i.e., keywords).

See examples below:


How does domestic violence affect children?                                

Compose your search:

domestic violence and children

How else might you compose your search?

family violence and children 


Does providing employment opportunitites to ex-prisoners reduce the risk they will re-offend? (= recidivism).

ex-prisoners and employment and recidivism

ex-convicts and  employment and recidivism

Perhaps broaden the search to find more about recidivism in general:


recidivism and causes

Suggested Databases . .

These databases are excellent starting points for your research because they have something on every subject:

E-Journal Search

Search for e-journals and other serials (i.e., magazines, and newspapers) by title, ISSN, or browsing. Use the PittCat Journal Finder that is in the top navigation of PittCat, or run a regular PittCat search.

journal search image


  • Can't find what you need electronically? Print-format journals, magazines, and newspapers held by Pitt Libraries are also searchable in PittCat Journal Finder. Owen Library's periodical collection is shelved on the 1st Floor near the elevator. 
  • If the item you need is available at another Pitt Library, you can request either the print copy or a scan of it.