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University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

Disability Studies

Finding Articles

Finding Articles

Planning out your search strategy in advance will save you time finding relevant articles in the library databases. To search most effectively, break your research topic into it's main concepts. Exp

  • ableism,
  • public policy,
  • people with mobility-related disabilities.

Do background research and brainstorming to discover other terms the literature may use for these concepts.

  • Brainstorm synonyms for each concept;
  • Scan books, encyclopedia articles, & class materials for related words;
  • Explore thesauri within the databases for subject terms related to your concept.


Concept Brainstorming

Academic Search Complete Thesaurus

MeSH Headings


ableist OR discrimination OR prejudice OR bias OR marginalization ableism OR "discrimination against people with disabilities" "discrimination psychology"[MeSH Terms] 
public policy government OR law OR legal Law "Public Policy"[MeSH Terms]

people with mobility-related disabilities

wheelchair OR crutches OR elderly OR Parkinson's Movement disorders "Mobility Limitation"[MeSH Terms]


Library databases allow you to search across multiple magazines, newspapers, or journals at once. To choose the right databases to search, think about the type of information you want (scholarly journal articles or a newspaper article, for example) and who would be reading and writing about your topic.

  • Multidisciplinary databases search broadly for sources across multiple disciplines. Many include a mix of scholarly and non-scholarly sources as well.
  • Subject-specific databases dive more deeply into the scholarly literature of a particular discipline.

TIP: Start your search with one multidisciplinary database and one subject specific database.

Multidisciplinary Databases

Subject-specific databases

To find databases for other fields that may speak to your research, check out the list of Databases by Subject.

Take some time to plan out your search strategy in advance. Remember these important search tips.

  1. Don't search wth your topic as a single phrase. Determine the key concepts of your topic. Then place each concept in its own search bar.
  2. Use ORs to string together synonyms or related terms for core concepts and place concepts on individual lines connected with AND.
    • Line 1: ableism OR ableist OR discrimination OR prejudice OR bias OR marginalization 
    • Line 2: public policy OR government OR law OR legal
    • Line 3: "people with mobility-related disabilities" OR wheelchair OR crutches OR elderly OR Parkinson's OR "Movement disorders" OR "Mobility Limitation"
  3. Use quotation marks to search for exact phrases
  4. Look for the "peer reviewed" limit in each database. You can set this limit on the main search screen (before you search) or narrow your results after you've started your search.
  5. Set date limits as appropriate for your topic.

If your first search doesn't return the results you want, done give up. Edit your search strategy, add more synonyms, and try again.

Found a reference to an article or book you want to read? Now it's time to locate it.

  • Does the Catalog or database record you have found include full text? (Look for an HTML or PDF link.)
  • If the Catalog, database, or index record does not link to the full article or book, click the button to see if the full text is available electronically or, if you are not already in the Catalog, in print in the library.
  • No button? Copy the name of the journal or book and search for it in the Library Catalog title search.

What is a library database?

Your instructor or subject librarian may throw around the term "library database" a lot, but what exactly do they mean? This video from RMIT University in Australia explains the term and how you can use databases for research.

Transcript available through YouTube.

Where's the Article?

If you don’t see a .pdf of the article you want, click Find it to find it in another database or in print in the Libraries.

If it is only in print in the Libraries or we don’t own the article, click Get scan to have the article emailed to you. This option will take a few days.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.