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Critical Writing Program: Saving Schools - Spring 2020: Overview

Scholarly Databases

These databases will help you find scholarly articles about your topic:

Subject Specific Databases

Multidisciplinary Databases

Background Resources

Why use this guide?

This Critical Writing Program guide will help you to:

  • Read a citation and distinguish between various types of citations
  • Find books and articles using citations and keywords
  • Choose the best scholarly resources for your topic
  • Get personalized assistance!

How to Read a Citation

Book citations generally show a publisher and a city of publication. Book chapters will include the title of the chapter as well as the name of the book.

  • APA: McWilliams, J. A. (2019). Compete or close: Traditional neighborhood schools under pressure. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
  • Chicago: McWilliams, Julie A. Compete or Close: Traditional Neighborhood Schools under Pressure. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2019.
  • MLA: McWilliams, Julie A. Compete or Close: Traditional Neighborhood Schools under Pressure. Harvard Education Press, 2019.

Article citations have a journal/periodical title in addition to the article title. They will usually also show a volume and issue number, and may show a day and month.

  • APA: Steinberg, M. P., & MacDonald, J.M. (2019). The effects of closing urban schools on students’ academic and behavioral outcomes: Evidence from Philadelphia. Economics of Education Review, 69, 25-60. 
  • Chicago: Steinberg, Matthew P. and John M. MacDonald. "The Effects of Closing Urban Schools on Students’ Academic and Behavioral Outcomes: Evidence from Philadelphia." Economics of Education Review 69 (2019): 25-60. 
  • MLA: Steinberg, Matthew P., and John M. MacDonald. "The Effects of Closing Urban Schools on Students’ Academic and Behavioral Outcomes: Evidence from Philadelphia." Economics of Education Review, vol. 69, 2019, pp. 25-60. 

For an extensive guide on all citation formats, visit Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab). This is a highly recommended resource.

Using Citations to Find Articles

If you have a complete article citation, search Articles+ from the Penn Libraries homepage to find the full text of your article.  When you search from the Penn Libraries homepage, you can select the correct title from the second column of the results: Articles+ to be connected with the article you are looking for.

No luck? That doesn't mean we don't have access to the article - it could be in print! Try using the PennText Article Finder as a next step. You can find PennText on the Library homepage.

Screenshot of search in Franklin and results

To find the full-text of an article, enter the journal name into the PennText article finder. A pop-up box will give you options to access the article online, in print, or the option to request through Interlibrary Loan. 

To request an item from another library, first check if the item is available through BorrowDirect+, then check if it is available through EZBorrow. If neither are available, place an Interlibrary Loan request. For more information on Interlibrary Loan and requesting materials from other libraries, visit this guide.

Using Citations to Find Books

If your citation is a book, use Franklin, the Library catalog. Franklin will help you find the library in which the book is located, and the call number.

You can search for a specific book by title, author, or ISBN. You can also do a keyword or subject keyword search to find books on a particular topic.

Screenshot of search example in Franklin

Other important resources for finding books:

Keyword Searching

This document suggests a good method for crafting effective keyword searches:

Information Literacy Librarian

Make an Appointment with a Librarian

Penn Librarians are here to help you with your research!  If you need any help, feel free to make an appointment with a librarian, for this class or for any others during your time here at Penn.



To ensure that the resource you have is scholarly and/or peer-reviewed, check Ulrichsweb, accessible through this link.  Just search for the name of the journal, and if it is peer-reviewed, there will be a "referee" symbol listed next to it.


PowerNotes is a browser extension that helps you gather and organize research.

Have questions about PowerNotes? Tips, troubleshooting, and tutorials are here:

Still need help? You can use the PowerNotes contact form, or you can contact the Penn Libraries—be sure to include "PowerNotes" in your question, so it is routed to the correct librarian.

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