Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SSI2-192: Elvis & MJ: The Image of the Kings: Articles & More

Scholarship as Conversation

Database Search Tips

When search databases, keep these techniques in mind.

As you search databases, you will likely find popular sources mixed with scholarly ones. Use the limiter option typically located in the left column to limit your search to journals. Below is an example from Academic Search Premier.

Use quotation marks.

If your search more than one word and you want the words to be found together in that order, use quotation marks.

Try it!

king of pop (without quotes)

"king of pop" (with quotes)

Use AND to add different concepts to your search.

Try it! 

"elvis presley" AND celebrity

Use OR for synonyms or related terms to broaden your search.

Try it! 

"elvis presley" AND (celebrity OR fame)

Truncate it.

Truncation is a way of giving your search tool flexibility to find alternate endings for your search term. In most databases, the *asterisk works as the truncation symbol


controvers* will retrieve controversy, controversies, controversial, etc.

Try it!

"michael jackson" and controvers*

Too Many Results?

Feeling overwhelmed? Try these strategies.

  • Be more specific with your search terms.
  • Add terms and connect with AND
  • Use quotation marks around phrases.
  • Use subject terms instead of keywords.
  • Use the search limiters.
    • Change the search field to abstract or title.
    • Limit to a specific date range, ex. 2000-2017
  • Change the database. Use a subject specific one.
    • Instead of Academic Search Premier, try Music Periodicals Database.


Too Few Results?

What if you can't find enough articles? Try these strategies.

  • Is everything spelled correctly?
  • Is there an alternative term that would work?
    • Instead of persona, use identity
  • Use broader search terms.
  • If you had multiple search terms, try reducing the number of terms. If you had been connecting terms with AND, try using OR instead.
  • Try using  truncation symbol to give the search flexibility
  • Remove search limiters.
  • Try a different database.Make sure the subject and coverage are appropriate for your search.
    • Use a multidisciplinary database like Research Library.
  • Ask a librarian! 

Where's the Fulltext?

There are three methods for obtaining the actual articles you wish to read:

Method 1: In some databases, you will be able to link directly to the fulltext article. Look around, as different databases have different interfaces. Look for a link or buttons that says "Check for Full Text" or Download PDF or similar. If given the choice between a PDF or HTML version of the article, always choose the PDF format. This will give you an exact image, including page numbers, of the article as it appears in the paper journal.

Method 2: If a direct link to full text is not available, then look for a link that checks for fulltext in Primo Search to see if the library subscribes to the journal.

Method 3: Interlibrary Loan

If your searching indicates that the article is not available in any format, then request the article through ILLiad, the interlibrary loan service. ( Most databases include links to ILLiad within each record.) It usually takes about a week or less to receive an electronic copy of the article.

Interlibrary Loan

If your article is not available at Collins Library, you've got another option to getting it. Use Tipasa, our interlibrary loan service.

Once you have an account, either go directly to Tipasa and manually enter the information, or, if you're using a database, look for a shortcut link to automatically fill out the form.

Allow at least a week for the article to come. If your article is delivered in electronic format, you'll receive an email with a link to follow as soon as it's arrived. If it's delivered in paper, you'll receive it right in your campus mailbox.

Practice Finding the Full Text in Primo

Use Primo Advanced Search to find out if the full text for the following article is available:

Frow, John. "Is Elvis a God?" International Journal of Cultural Studies 1, no. 2 (1998): 197-210.

Search Primo

Searches to try. Copy and paste the word or phrase into the search box above.

  • Celebrity
  • Celebrities
  • Celebrities in mass media
  • Fame social aspect United States
  • Rock music



Where Do I Search?

A good starting point for academic work is one or more of the many database available through the library's website. Databases provide access and content to sources that are generally not available on the open web through a general search engine like Google.

Every database contains only certain types and amounts of information. Which ones you choose depends on your purpose.

Multidisciplinary databases cover a wide variety of subject areas and may include a mix of popular and scholarly sources. They are good resources when you begin your research.  Academic Search Premier is an example of a multidisciplinary database.

Subject databases cover a specific discipline and provide the widest range of access to scholarly sources. They are used for in-depth research. International Index to Music Periodicals Full Text, a music database, is an example of a subject database. Which subject databases you search will be determined by who may be writing about your topic. Looking for articles about punk and feminism? In addition to International Index to Music Periodicals Full Text, search the Gender Studies database.

Multidisciplinary Databases

When starting your research, it's a good idea to search multidisciplinary databases as they help identify what scholars are writing about from different perspectives. 

Just remember, with JSTOR you aren't accessing the most current articles from a journal and you can only do keyword searching.

Subject Databases

These subject databases may be especially useful for your research projects for this class. 

Related Subject Databases

The following are recommended subject specific databases that cover scholarly sources in different fields. For other subject specific databases, go the library subject guides.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches open access materials as well as items from many publishers, including some of the resources to which Collins Library subscribes. However, Google Scholar only searches a fraction of the published scholarly literature. Use the databases listed on the page as well as others found on the database A-Z list.


  • Use advanced searching to search phrases, authors, publications, and dates.
  • Google Scholar includes many citations that link directly to publishers' web sites of which most will charge a fee for access. However, Collins Library may subscribe to these publications. Search the journal title in Primo.
  • Google Scholar provides forward citation searching, automatically extracting and displaying works cited as separate results.
Google Scholar Search

Special Issues

The Journal of Pan African Studies has a special  issue that  tackles the contribution of popular icon Michael Jackson to the world of entertainment and human social-political culture.

Volume 3, no. 7, 2010





The Journal of Popular Music Studies has a special issue Michael Jackson in/as U.S. Popular Culture

Volume 23, no. 1, March 2011

Forming a Research Question

Research is not passive reporting, it is a search for answers. A research question is what drives your research project; it is something that you want to know about your topic and it is something you want to explore and try to answer in your research project. 

Research typically begins with a topic that has piqued your curiosity.  When you're researching a topic, you typically are interested in questions of who, what, where and when.

As you learn more about your chosen topic, however, you'll discover that scholars may have different approaches and arguments about the topic, and you'll start to ask your own research questions.  Research questions typically begin with why or how.

When you've selected a research question to explore and are ready to make an argument as to how to answer it, you'll come up with a thesis.

Practice: Exploring Databases for Topics and Research Questions

  1. Start with a broad topic related to the course that interests you. Choose two or three key words or phrased that reflect your topic.
  2. Search the broad topic in one multidisciplinary database and one subject database.
  3. Review the titles, abstracts, keywords, and subjects of your search results. What are scholars writing about? Are there tensions, controversies, or underdeveloped topics to explore?
  4. Identify an idea that interests you.
  5. Transform the idea into a research question. Keep in mind that research questions typically begin with why or how.