Locating & managing your articles

Online journal articles

As you begin to think about your final research papers, I would like to bring your attention to useful resources that you can easily access through the Internet. I would strongly suggest you to take advantage of these resources as you begin your research.

Many journal articles nowadays can be accessed through various online databases. As a student of linguistics, you might be interested in these core linguistics databases currently available through Georgetown Library: Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA International Bibliography, and ERIC.  There are a number of additional electronic databases that you can access through the library including JSTOR, Project Muse, Social Sciences Full Text, Communication and Mass Media Complete, and Communication Abstracts. A starting place to begin your search is the Articles, Databases & Journals page. In addition, you can also search electronic articles and books through the main search portal by selecting the “E-Library (E-Books/Journals/Resources).

More information about these relevant online databases can be found by visiting the Linguistic Resources at Lauinger Library. There is a wealth of information related to linguistics research in general. Moreover, you can also set up a research consultation appointment with one of the staff members there. So this is a great place to seek advice on research issues. You can visit their website here. Another great resource is the library’s “Ask Us” services – a place where you can get your research related questions answered 24/7.


There are three main search portals that you will find useful if you are looking for physical copies of books. The three include GEORGE, Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC), and WorldCat. One of the great benefits of using the WRLC is that you can request to have a book delivered to Georgetown Library from any of the other participating libraries. If the book of interest is not in the local area, you can also use Interlibrary Loan Services to borrow books from other libraries.  So not being able to get hold of a book should not be one of your excuses for not writing that fantastic research paper!

Besides using the default search options that many search portals offer, you should also take advantage of their advanced search system. The advanced system allows you to use combine a number of search criteria. The main keyword search engine for example allows you to search four different key words simultaneously in four fields. You can then combine these search terms with boolean operators like “and”, “and not”, and “or”.  More information is available here.

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that many times a search engine, particularly Google Scholar will display a number of articles that are similar to the one that you have just located. This is like browsing through books in the library. You might be surprised with what you can find this way.

Reference managers

Managing and citing your references are critical components of your research paper. While some folks prefer to manually create their bibliography, there are also a number of tools that automatically perform this task for you. A nice feature of many of these is their ability to automatically extract bibliographic information through online database. You can then create a list of references with the click of a button in whatever citation format you are using. This allows you to focus more on the writing and research process and less on the formatting and preparation of the bibliography.

There are a number of poplar tools including Evertnote, Mendeley, Zotero, JabRef, Citavi, EndNote, and RefWorks (and more!). Some are commercial and some are not. As a student of Georgetown, you can use some of the commercial ones including RefWorks by asking for a code at the reference desk. In terms of accessibility, some of them are based online while others can be installed on your local computer. JabRef, an open source software, can be for instance downloaded for free and can be installed on your machine. You can then connect the tool to online libraries (many libraries including Library of Congress) and retrieve bibliographic information. Many of the online databases already support many of these tools. And all you need to do is to export the bibliographic information into one of these tools. You can read more about them at the Linguistics Resources and here.

Another great feature of many of these tools is that it allows you to save articles as attachments along with their bibliographic information. You can then annotate and organize the articles based on whatever research criteria you have. The “export” features found in many of these tools allow you to save them in various formats. This makes it easy for you to get your mind around a body of literature. It has certainly been quite useful in my own research. And I strongly recommend people to take advantage of these tools if you have a hard time managing your references.

On the other hand, if you are not comfortable with the idea of using new tools, one thing that you should absolutely do is to name your references more smartly. Create a naming system and consistently use it with all your articles. The naming system may contain the author’s last name, year, and part of the paper title. That way, you can get a sense of what the article is about without having to open it. This will not only save you time in the research process but also facilitate the establishment of a systematic personal library.

Do you any tips on how to work smarter? Please share your thoughts below.

Prepared & Posted by Jermay Jamsu