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Research Basics at Lavery Library

Get started with searching library resources at Lavery Library at St. John Fisher University

About Scholarly Articles

several scholarly journal covers including journal of black studies and disability and society

For most of your academic work, you will need to use scholarly articles. These are articles written by researchers and published in scholarly journals.

Scholarly articles are usually written by experts in scholarly language. They are written for other experts to read. They may be peer-reviewed. Peer review is a step in the publishing process when other experts review the article before it gets published.

About Databases

To find scholarly articles, you can search in the library’s Big Red Box and in our databases.

A library database is an organized collection of published information.

In a database, you might find articles from scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers. You may also find other types of information.

You can use our databases free of charge if you are a Fisher student. You'll learn more about databases on the next page of this tutorial.

Keywords & Search Statements

When you have a research question, you can take some time to identify its key concepts, or keywords.

Then, you can put these keywords together into a search statement. You can use this search statement in library databases and the Big Red Box to find sources.


Watch this video to learn how to put together keywords and create a search statement for a database.

This video is the first in a three-part series of Creating Search Statements. This video introduces the concept of selecting keywords from your research topic or question in order to search for library resources.

This is the second in the Creating Search Statements series and builds on Creating Search Statements: Find Keywords, in this tutorial you will learn how combine your keywords in order to search specific library databases.

Tip: Use a Concept Map

Squares connected with arrows and labels: First box reads: Your research question or topic. Three arrows point to three sub-boxes with the label 2. Pull out key concepts from your topic. An arrow from each of these boxes points to another box labeled with: 3. brainstorm keywords and a final note reads 4. Pick a keyword from each box to begin searching the databases.

When you are searching for articles or sources for a research project, you can use a concept map to break down your research topic into keywords.

You can save this concept map for later, or draw your own when you want to select keywords for your research projects.

Learn about the difference between the three main types of articles you might come across during library research.

Quiz Yourself

You can go through this ungraded activity to see what you know about choosing keywords.


  1. Answer the quiz question.
  2. Select Submit.
  3. Select View Accuracy to see how well you did on the quiz.