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Finding Information

Gain an understanding of different information formats, including the ways they can be used in research.


This page is designed to help you:

  • Understand what an article is and its relationship with other formats
  • Select for articles using the library homepage and one database (Academic Search Premier)


There are many places for you to find research articles online, and each offer different features and benefits for researchers. This tutorial will focus on two such sources, the Library catalog (BruKnow) and a specialized database called Academic Search Premier. 

The full list of databases available at Brown is called the A-Z Database List.

Let’s look at a few examples. Today, let's search for articles on cordel literature.

Image of the covers of three examples of cordel literature in the Library's collection.Literatura de cordel (“string” or “cordel literature”) is a genre of popular literature characteristic of northeastern Brazil. Brought to the country by the first Portuguese colonists, the Brazilian cordel stems from the European tradition of ballad and broadside poetry, and derives its name from the cord on which the booklets are customarily suspended for display in open-air fairs. These inexpensive chapbooks or folhetos have circulated in Brazil for centuries, and are now considered an important part of Brazilian folk and popular culture. You can learn about the Brown University Library collection of cordel literature here.

Find Articles with BruKnow

The search box on the Library homepage allows you to search across multiple sources (including print and e-books, music, and archives). We like to say that this search is for 'almost everything' because it covers most of our licensed content (such as journals, magazines, and newspapers), and other resources like the Brown Library website, but not 100% of everything available to you - that would be quite the achievement for any search! Librarians can help you find material not included in this search.

We call our search BruKnow.

Start by typing cordel literature in the search box. Select "Articles Only" under the search bar. If you forget to select this now or change your mind later, you can adjust this setting on the next page. Press enter or click search to continue.

image of bruknow search for articles on cordel literature

This particular search returns thousands of articles. BruKnow offers several options for filtering results:

  • Date
  • Format
  • Location
  • Subject
  • Language
  • Journal Title
  • Source

The last option here, Source, can help you identify specialized databases for your particular topic. Source tells you which of the individual databases available through the Library contains the articles you see in the results. You can exclude sources in addition to filtering to a group of sources to see where your most relevant results are coming from.

When you identify a source with great results, you may want to search that source directly. The benefits of using a specialized search database are outlined in our tutorial comparing Google and Library Databases. Information about access to individual sources can be found below.

Specialized Databases

You can identify and access specialized databases a few ways.

  1. Search the A-Z Database List
  2. Use a Resource Guide. Resource guides are curated by librarians to provide you with the most relevant sources for a particular topic.
  3. Contact a subject librarian for suggestions or for a research consultation. Browse resource guides by topic to see which librarians work with public health, for example.

Database links are included in the general BruKnow search as shown below.

bruknow search results for academic search premier

Further Reading

  • Hoskins, S. G., Stevens, L. M., & Nehm, R. H. (2007). Selective use of the primary literature transforms the classroom into a virtual laboratory. Genetics, 176(3), 1381–1389.

Learning Objectives

This page was designed to help you:

  • Understand what an article is and its relationship with other formats
  • Select for articles using the library homepage and one database (Academic Search Premier)