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Finding, Evaluating, & Using Information: Finding information

Finding Information

Using the right tool for finding the type of information you need is an important part of the research process. While using a single web search engine like Google may be tempting due to its convenience, it's important to recognize that search engines may not fully cover resources available on your research topic. Thus, using multiple search tools may be necessary. To identify the best tools for your needs, you'll likely have to explore several finding tools and compare the search results from each. 

The best tool for finding scholarly articles is article databases. ISU Library offers access to hundreds of article databases that are general and specialized in scope. Visit the Article & Databases page and use the Subjects drop-down menu to find what database is available in your subject area. Familiarize yourself with the database's search interface, controlled vocabulary, and other functionalities.

While databases help you identify publications on your topic, immediate access to full text may not always be available. Use the Interlibrary Loan service to request those resources.


Sometimes, you may need to search a specific journal instead of a database. While you may find some open journals in your subject area, most of the scholarly journals are still behind the paywalls. ISU Library provides access to thousands of journals in different subject areas. There are several ways to find those journals.

If you know the journal title, use one of these steps:
  • Journal Search in Quick Search and type the title of the journal
  • Advanced Search in Quick Search, type the journal title, and select Journals in the Material Type drop-down menu

If you are not looking for a specific journal but want to know what journals are available, use one of these steps:
  • browse journals by the subject category in Journal Search
  • use BrowZine to search individual issues and volumes of journals

Many finding tools help you find books, including ebooks. Some examples are Quick Search, WorldCat, and GoogleBooks. Quick Search is ISU library's search tool that gives you access to thousands of books and e-books. Use it to find books by title, keyword, or phrase searching. On the search results page, use the Tweak My Results function to narrow down your search by author, subject, format, and more.

If the library does not own the book you need, use the Interlibrary Loan service to request it.



Starting your research using Quick Search

Special Collections and University Archives is home to Iowa State University Library's rare books, manuscripts, photographs, audio recordings, film, artifacts, archival records, and other historical documents. Our collection covers a large range of areas, including agriculture and rural life, life sciences, engineering, technology, and Iowa State University history. Since the collections are so vast in scope and type, there are numerous ways to find the materials.


Dissertations & Theses - University Library provides access to most ISU dissertations and theses. You can access them using one of these options:

Digital Media - We have a large collection of digital media, including audiobooks, educational and feature films, television series, and music. Visit the Video and Media page to learn more about how to access these resources. 

Course Reserves - Some instructors make required course materials available through Course Reserves. If your instructor placed materials in Course Reserves, visit the Textbooks and Course Materials page to learn about how to access them.

Images, Maps, & more - Other sources you can access through the library website are images, maps, microforms, and standards. Visit the Find Other Types of Materials page to learn more.