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Library DIY

Navigating UWG library resources and research

Explaining some commonly used research terms

Explaining the relationship between articles, journals, databases, and content providers

In doing research we use some terms you might not be familiar with. This page will help you understand how these different terms are related. When doing research we talk about finding articles which are published in journals that you find by searching a database. We subscribe to different databases from multiple content providers and each has a slightly-different interface with common features. Even though many databases look the same, they contain different resources. This ecosystem is kind of complicated, but here is a way to help you understand it.

Let's start with a citation for an article (Note that the URL part of the citation is abbreviated):


Thoss, Jeff. "Versifying Batman: Superheroes in Contemporary Poetry." Frontiers of Narrative Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, 2019, pp. 268-286. MLA International Bibliography,


Some components that you can see in the citation above are:
article title = "Versifying Batman..."
journal title = Frontiers in Narrative Studies
volume number = 5
issue number = 2
publication year = 2019
database = MLA International Bibliography
content provider = EBSCO

Let's look at a different way to think about this. 

On May 11, 2017 the CW television series Riverdale aired episode 13 of its first season. This episode, called "The Sweet Hereafter," had several important moments: Archie's father gets shot; Cheryl drops through the ice; and Cheryl burns down her house.  You might have watched that episode when it aired in 2017 by accessing CW through your cable provider (Comcast, Charter, DirecTV, etc) or you might have watched it later on Netflix which you can stream because you have Internet (through Charter or AT&T or some other way).  What does that have to do with research articles?


A Scene is like an Article

The separate scenes are like different articles that are joined together in the same episode. In the example above, Archie's dad getting shot is a scene. It might have something to do with another scene (Cheryl burning down her house) but it might not.  Sometimes all of the scenes are related but sometimes they stand alone. In our journal article example at the top, this is "Versifying Batman: Superheroes in Contemporary Poetry."


An Episode is like a Journal Issue

All of the scenes above were released (published) together in the same episode "The Sweet Hereafter." It was the 13th episode of the 1st season.  When we talk about seasons and episodes, the seasons refer to the year of the show and the episodes usually start with a new number at the beginning of each season. When you see that a show is in its 4th season, you know there were three previous years of the show. This is very similar to how journals are organized. Journals have different articles in each issue. They have volume numbers that change each year and within that year several issues are published. They also have a publication date which is when the information was first released. In our journal article example above we had volume 5, issue 2, from 2019. 


A Show is like a Journal Title

If you want to see the episode mentioned above you can probably search "The Sweet Hereafter" or "Archie's dad gets shot Riverdale" on YouTube and find it. This is similar to how you can find individual articles on Google Scholar. However if you want to know which streaming service has the entire show Riverdale, you have to search "Riverdale" when you look at Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Netflix; individual episodes or scenes are listed in those services. When doing research, to see if the library has a journal that you want, you need to search the journal title in our list of journals or in our library catalog; you won't find individual articles listed in those places. In our journal article example above, the journal title is Frontiers in Narrative Studies.


Channels are like Databases

The show Riverdale originally aired on CW. Television channels or networks air different shows; some channels specialize in the kind of content they broadcast.  When you watch television, you pick a channel based on what shows or content it has; you would not turn on ESPN to watch "House Hunters."  Databases (ERIC, PsycInfo, Historical Abstracts) include different journal titles.  When you do library research, you select the database you want to use based on the subjects it tends to have; you would not look for articles about atomic structure in a database called "Education Full Text." We found the Batman article in the database MLA International BIbliography.


Cable and Internet Providers are like Content Providers

When you watch a show on CW (or if you watch it on Netflix), you access that channel through your cable tv, satellite or internet subscription (Charter, Comcast, AT&T).  Libraries do the same with our databases. We pay library content providers like EBSCO or ProQuest to give us access to specific databases like Academic Search Complete or Chemical Abstracts. While every EBSCO database looks the same on the surface, they do contain different resources. The URL in our citation at the top shows that access to this article comes through ebscohost. 


Understanding Journal Citations by comparing them to a scene from Riverdale


If it's easier for you to visualize in a table, look at this table:

Archie's father gets shot scene   article "Versifying Batman: Superheroes in Contemporary Poetry."
"The Sweet Hereafter" episode name   issue **
Riverdale show   journal Frontiers of Narrative Fiction
Season 1 season   volume 5
Episode 13 episode number   issue 2
May 11, 2017 original air date   publication date 2019
CW channel   database MLA International Bibliography
Comcast, Charter, DirecTV cable or internet service provider   content provider EBSCO

** Sometimes journal issues have a title if it's a special issue but this is not very common