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Finding Journal Articles

General Search

Searching Summon (General Search) is fast and easy but has some limitations. 

Summon contains content from hundreds of databases, which means that it includes articles from most subject areas, However, Summon doesn't include everything so you may be missing out on some articles relevant to your research. Finally,  Summon lacks many advanced search features that individual databases provide. If you need to do a comprehensive and precise search you should search in specialized databases and indexes.

To find articles in Summon, go to the General tab in the central search box on the UBC Library homepage, and enter your search terms.

To learn about searching in Summon, watch the following video:



Tips for Finding Articles
  1. When results display, use the "Refine your search" menu on the left of the screen to "Limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review."
  2. If you have too many results you can add a search term, for example: forest fires and canada  
  3. Not enough results? Try fewer or broader terms, for example: "forest fires" and "global warming"  
  4. Put exact phrases in quotation marks so that Summon  retrieves only articles where the terms occur together, for example: "plastic bottles"


Searching one database at a time can be more time consuming but is also more precise and comprehensive.   Advantages of searching within databases include 

  • limiting your search to a specific discipline (e.g. Psychology, Medicine), and therefore fewer, but more relevant results.
  • refining your search by discipline-specific elements, such as  age/sex/gender of subject, chemical compound, geographical location of research subjects, research methodology, etc.
  • the ability to do complex searches  

Choosing a Database

To find a database in your subject area, look at the Research Guide for your discipline or topic. Research guides are written by subject librarians to bring together the best sources on a subject in one place.

To find the Research Guides, go to the UBC Library homepage and choose Get Research Help. In the drop down list, select Research Guides.


When the Research Guides page displays, enter  the general term for your subject, e.g. physics. You may retrieve more than one guide: choose the guide that seems best for your research, e.g. Engineering Physics

Once inside the research guide, look for a tab labeled Articles or Indexes and Databases or Getting Started. This will provide you with a list of databases you can search for subject specific articles.