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FYS 120: Moving Into Your First Year

Where to Search for Scholarly Articles

You can search for journal articles in two places: Catalyst or the research databases.  There are pros and cons to each approach.


  • Pro: same user interface you use to find our books and other materials
  • Pro: easy access to Resource Sharing if you want to request something we don't have
  • Pro: simultaneously asks multiple databases for results 
    • Con: only shows articles available online; does not include ones we only have in print
    • Con: you will need to filter out irrelevant results, if your search terms are significant in both music and non-music research areas
    • Con: sometimes misses results from certain databases (especially RILM)


  • Pro: includes search results Catalyst misses, including books from other libraries
  • Pro: subject-specific, so you don't need to filter out non-music results
    • Con: you often have to link back to Catalyst to access materials

Karen's personal preference is to start all searches in an appropriate Research Database.  But if you prefer the Catalyst interface, start there and then follow up in an appropriate research database to make sure you haven't missed anything. Look for a "Research Databases" tab on the left for recommendations.

Searching for Scholarly Articles in Catalyst

1. From the library's homepage, click on the "Advanced Search" option. (Ignore the Articles tab; Advanced Search gives you more control over your results!)

screenshot of the Catalyst search interface; the "advanced search" option is marked in red

2. In the Advanced Search function, make sure "Articles" is ticked at the top. Then enter your search terms below. Here is a search for articles about American choreographer Katherine Dunham.

Screenshot of an Advanced Search in Catalyst.  The first line is set to "Any field contains 'Katherine Dunham'." The "articles" button is ticked..


3. Catalyst interprets the word "article" loosely, so the results list might include journal articles, book or performance reviews, and dissertations. Tell Catalyst you want only scholarly articles by clicking the "scholarly articles" button in the the "Refine My Results" menu on the left.

A screenshot of the "Refine My Results" menu. The button for "scholarly articles" is marked in red.

4. Most articles are available online and will be marked with a green "Online Access" button. If you are off campus, you may need to enter your St. Olaf ID for access.

Screenshot of an article record in Catalyst. The green "online access" button is marked in red.

5. Looking for articles from other libraries? Look for a Requesting Materials from Other Libraries tab on the left.

Searching for Scholarly Articles in Research Databases

Searching for scholarly articles in the research databases works is very similar to searching for them in Catalyst. The user interfaces look different, but the basic tools are the same.

You can access a list of recommended databases for this particular class using the "Research Databases" tab on the left of this page.

Alternatively, you can see all the databases St. Olaf offers here. Use the drop-down menus at the top of the page to select the subject area or database type you need. For example, you could set the  subject drop-down to "dance" to see all the dance databases.

Screenshot of the database sorting menus, which include "subject" and "database type" options.

1. Let's search for articles about "embodiment" in Performing Arts Periodicals Database, one of the go-to databases for dance. Since PAPD also includes theater, add a second search term for "dance."

Screenshot of the search box in Performing Arts Periodicals Database. The search is set to "embodiment AND dance."

2. As in Catalyst, once you are in your results list, there are additional filters on the left -- including one that limits to scholarly journals.

Screenshot of the Source Type filter in Music Periodicals Database. The option for "Scholarly Journals" is marked in red.

3. Often the article will be available directly from the database.  Look for a "PDF" or "Full Text" link.

Screenshot of an article record in Performing Arts Periodicals Database. The link to "full-text PDF" is marked in red.

4. If the resource is not directly available, there will be a Find It! button. Clicking this button asks Catalyst if we have access to the resource somewhere else.

Screenshot of an article record in Performing Arts Periodicals Database. The FindIt! button is marked in red.

5. If we do have access, you'll be taken to a record in Catalyst with links to where you can access the article. There will be an Online Access portion in the record with links to where we have access.

Screenshot of an article's record in Catalyst, showing the online access options.

6. If we don't have access, you can request the article via Resource Sharing. Look for instructions in the Requesting Materials from Other Libraries tab on the left.