Islam and Muslim Americans

Dive Deeper into your Research

Background Articles

Getting background info on your topic is a great place to start your research.

Learn about the history, issues, stakeholders, terminology, and more - before searching for more in-depth information.

Background sources are also a great place to find keywords on a topic and leads to helpful resources.

Search Tips:

  • Start with broad concepts rather than a specific focus
    • example: urban 
Find Reference in One Search

You can also search your topic in the main search box on the library's homepage. This is Primo One Search and it will point you to articles and resources that are housed inside the library as well as inside the library's databases. As shown in the search below, you can enter in your simple search terms, then limit the results to narrow just to this kind of background article. 

  • Under Source Types, select "Reference Entries"
  • You can use Show Only and select "View Online" for online reference or Available in the Library for print reference 

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screenshot of one search showing to pick the two limiters listed in the text above.

Newspaper and Magazine articles

Use the links below to search in library databases for current news and analysis of the news. You can also find editorials and opinion on the op-ed pages.

Search tips:
  • Search by keyword to find relevant sources. Look for additional relevant keywords as you search.
  • Limit to "full-text" if you need to access only articles that you can immediately download. 
  • Set an appropriate date limit to find current enough information.
  • To limit your search to only magazine and/or new articles, select magazines or newspapers at Publication Type.
  • If you choose newspaper articles, look for substance! Try limiting to cover story, feature, front page for longer articles.
  • You can limit to editorials or opinion to find argumentative essays on current issues.
Search directly in Newspaper collections:
Regional Newspapers

Sample search limited to magazines and newspapers of the keywords: depression OR anxiety AND pandemic AND college OR "higher education"

Newspaper and Magazine Search in ProQ

Print & Ebooks

You can easily limit your search to find only print, physical books that you can check out and/or use inside the library.

  • Search titles, authors, or keywords in the box below.
  • Use the filter to limit to Available in the Library for print books.
  • Once you find a title, jot down the Call Number, which tells you the book's location on the shelves. Be sure to ask a librarian for help locating items if you need help.
  • Note the limiter for Book Chapters too!

Holman Library logo

Electronic Books

Use the database links below to go directly to the library's collection of ebooks. Be sure to search by title, author, or just general keywords.

Multimedia Journalism

Multimedia refers to educational and documentary film and video, news and analysis in radio journalism and television, and some current issues podcasts.

Streaming films

Use the library's Films on Demand database to find streaming educational films & journalism in order to learn more about your topic.

A Small Selection of Radio & Podcast Journalism

Find the Debate in Editorials, Viewpoints, & Opinion

Use the resources below to find a range of informed opinions on your topics.

Current Issues Databases
Find Opinion in Newspapers & Magazines

Newspaper editorials are a great way to find reasoned opinions on current controversial topics.

  • To find opinion:
    • type editorial OR commentary into a search field
    • or select editorial and commentary as an option at document type.

Example 1: Academic Search Complete

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Example 2: Proquest 

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screenshot of Proquest, showing the search boxes, highlighting the "full-text" box to check, and the date range option to narrow your results if needed. 

  • Then, as shown in the image below, scroll down on the advanced search page to limit by "Document Type" - choosing "Editorials" from the options before searching.

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screenshot of the "document type" limiting option on the advanced search page of ProQuest


Step into the Scholarly Conversation

Dive deep into a subject with scholarly research and analysis found in peer reviewed journals and in some academic books.

To find Scholarly Peer Reviewed Journal Articles, be sure to check the limiter.

To find book and book chapters that may be scholarly, be sure to assess if the author has academic expertise of the subject, if the discussion is in-depth and sophisticated, if claims and sources are thoroughly and extensively cited. 

Subject-Specific Holman Library Databases
Multi-Disciplinary Library Databases
Search in all Library Databases at once with One Search

Holman Library logo

Use Holman Library One Search to:
  • Search for a range of source types at once, including books, articles, audiovisual, and more from Holman Library
  • Get an overview of information on a subject
  • Track down citations

Finding Sources on the Web

You will find a range of Web sources throughout the pages of this research guide, from advocacy and activist organizations, research institutes, not-for-profit support agencies, and governmental sources

As with any source, be sure to assess for:

  • authority and expertise (authority is contextual, and it may range from firsthand experience to academic study)
  • bias
  • currency
  • reliability
  • purpose
Tips for effective Web searching:

Target specific source types with URL searching within specific domains. 

  • for governmental sources (variant: for a state government)
  • for sites registered as not-for-profit (assess! Some are organizations working on an issue. Use the About Us tab to learn more about their perspective. You will also find some news sources, wikipedia, and other .orgs).
  • for education sites (beware student work you find online. .edu does not guarantee scholarly)
  • for military info
  • for commercial websites (news sources are usually .coms. In other words, we don't need to throw out all .coms!) 

You can also use Google Advanced Search, linked below.

Database & Web Search Strategies

Source: "Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies" by Sarah Clark, is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Learn how to use Booleans, truncation, and quotations for effective searching.

Additional Topic Search Tips

  • Books about Islam are found within call number 297. You will find world history and geography in the 900s.

Source Types - how do they differ and how do you decide?

Comparing Source Types

Scholarly or popular? What is the difference? Why pick one over the other? And when? The research process is full of questions, but we're here to help! Use the tabs in this box to read more about these different types of sources and what they might be useful for. Then, move on to the rest of the guide to see how you can search for such sources.

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photo of newspapers


These articles are good both for finding recent information on a topic (what has happened in the last week or month) as well as finding out how historical events were reported in the past (for example, how was the AIDS crisis first reported in the 1980s?)

  • Generally printed on newsprint in black ink.
  • Written for the general public.
  • Articles written by staff writers and freelance journalists.
  • Will sometimes cite sources, a scholar, or a freelance writer.
  • Includes current events and special features.
  • Usually published daily or weekly.

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photo of some popular magazine coversPopular Magazines

These articles are good for summarizing information on a topic for the general public.  They often provide a background, summarize research findings, and provide some analysis of a topic.

  • Generally attractive and illustrated with color photographs.
  • Written for the general public.
  • Articles written by staff or freelance writer.
  • Includes current events and special features.
  • Usually published weekly or monthly.

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photo of trade journals

Trade Journals

*Sometimes called Professional Journals or Industry Journals

These articles are good to keep people in a particular field of work or trade (veterinarians, police officers, hotel managers, teachers, librarians, advertisers...etc.) up-to-date on trends in their line of work.  Articles often summarize and analyze findings from scholarly research.

  • Generally attractive and are often illustrated with color photographs
  • Written for industry professionals.
  • Articles written by staff writers, though the magazine may sometimes accept articles from industry professionals.
  • Occasionally list references at the end of the article or provide footnotes within the text.
  • Includes current events and special features within a particular profession or industry.
  • Usually published biweekly or monthly.      

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a photo of some print journals

Scholarly journals

*Sometimes called Scholarly, Academic, Peer-reviewed or Refereed

These articles are good to find results of scientific or academic research.  They are written for scholars and provide in-depth analysis of a very specific area of your topic 

  • Generally have a sober, serious look. May contain graphs and charts, but few glossy pages or photographs. Use scholarly language with vocabulary specific to their profession or field. May often have headings in article such as "literature review" "methods" "results" and "discussion." 
  • Written for academics and professionals.
  • Articles written by researchers or scholars in the field who report the results of original research.
  • Articles include footnotes and a list of citations at the end of the article.
  • Includes scholarly research for a particular profession or industry.
  • Usually published bimonthly or quarterly.

Images: All images in this tabbed box were taken by GRC librarians