HELP! I just need one article about . . . 

Student with a speech bubble: "How can I find a scholarly article about...?"Ok. Don't panic. Here’s a quick way to find an article on just about any topic, especially if you don’t have much time.

Go to the Library homepage [opens a new window].

Click Quick Search.

See the Summon Search box at the top? Just type a word in there. Anything related to your topic will do. But here's the thing . . . DO NOT type a complete sentence or anything that even resembles a complete sentence in that box. 

Just type one word like biotechnology or a short phrase like social media.

Click the Search button.

Don't freak out when you see the very long list of results. Don't even look at that yet.

First, stop and think about what type of article you need:

  1. Scholarly, Academic, or Peer-Reviewed?
    Under REFINE YOUR SEARCH click Scholarly & Peer-Review.

  2. Regular magazine article?
    Under CONTENT TYPE click Magazine Article.

  3. Newspaper?
    Under CONTENT TYPE click Newspaper Article.

After this first decision, your work is not yet done. Your results list is probably still huge. Look under PUBLICATION DATE and click one of the following:

  • Last 12 months
  • Last 3 years
  • Last 5 years

Now you can start looking at the results list. It's probably still pretty big, but it's OK to start skimming through the list to see what article titles appear there. If you see something interesting, click the title to be taken to the database where that article "lives." If you are at home, you will be prompted to enter your myPittCC username and password.Student with speech bubble: "Yes! That is much better. These search tips are great!"


Make Your Results List BETTER

To focus your search results around a more narrow topic, add keywords to the search box up at the top of the page.

If you typed social media in the search box, try adding something like bias.

Like this...

social media AND bias

Now click the search button and see what you get.

Try tweaking your search a little more...

social media AND confirmation bias

And one last trick is to put quotation marks around any phrase that you want searched together as one block of text.

social media AND "confirmation bias"

Your list (depending on your topic of course) will hopefully be a lot shorter, but also more focused.


Stuff That Can Go Wrong 

Technology is great, but it can also be challenging at times.


Logging In to the Online Databases:

If you don't know your myPittCC username and password, we (the Library) can't help you with that. However, if it's too late to call the PCC IT Help Desk, go to the Chat with a Librarian box and ask them for help. They have generic login information that you can use in a pinch.Student with speech bubble: "I found an article and now it's time for coffee. My librarian is amazing."

Error Messages:

When you click the article title in the results list, you might get an error message.

  • In a hurry? Just skip that article and try to find another one that will open.
  • Use the library chat and see if the librarian there can get it for you.
  • If you are not in a rush, contact the Library with the article title, author, date, etc. and they can usually find it.

That wasn't so bad was it? Of course, some topics are much trickier than others and you may still need help. That's fine. You have librarians who can help you figure this out. 

But I Just Want to Watch a Video!

That’s cool. We have a video on how to search Summon along with some other library tutorials and research guides to help you search for resources.

So there you go. This is a quick way to jump right in and get to a list of articles. If you have questions, ask a librarian. We really are here to help you! 

Happy searching!


The photos in this post were taken by Erge Mahindra and are available on Unsplash. The speech bubbles were added by Angela Davis, PCC Library.