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Periodical Indexes

Just as an index at the back of a book lets you quickly go to a topic within the book, online databases rapidly sort through thousands of records to identify articles or books on a topic. Choosing an appropriate database is an essential part of research.

While some are general indexes, most library databases specialize in a particular subject. For example, there are databases for education, psychology, engineering and architecture – virtually every academic discipline! Some also allow you to search by type of material, such as images, or limit to only to scholarly articles.

Not all databases index far enough back, so you may have to use a print index to find information in the earlier years of a publication.

Remember, however, that periodical indexes identify material which has been published. It is not always available in the Stanford University Libraries' collections.

Periodical indexes are a great way to find information because:

  • they usually cover specific subjects
  • they are structured for finding information more precisely
  • they index information which has gone through an editorial review process
  • you can access many of them via the Web
  • they offer citations to journals and magazines, many abstracts, and often links to the full-text
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