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MUSI5300: Research Techniques: Articles & Databases

Using Databases to Find Research Articles

Where to find Articles?

When conducting a literature review, it's important to find as much information about previous research and studies as possible.  Articles are a great place to find this type of information and can be found through online databases and print indexes. 

We have a number of general discipline databases (for interdisciplinary topics), as well as a number of Music-specific databases to choose from.  Most offer full-text access to articles online, and can be used from off campus.

You can see a complete list of the databases that the Library subscribes to with the Databases tab on our homepage, or by going directly to the Databases page.  I've also supplied a short list of databases for each subset of the Music graduate program, to assist in getting started (see Suggested Databases box).

Keep in mind that many of your topics will cover more than one subject area (Music and Education, Business and Music, etc.), therefore, be sure to use multiple databases when doing your searches!  Even among similar databases, information will vary.


What Kind of Publication Should I Use?

Not sure if the source you've found is a popular magazine, trade publication or scholarly journal?

The easiest way is through the Ulrichsweb database (under Databases on the library page).

  1. Search the name of the periodical and choose the correct one.
  2. Under the Basic Description, check the Content Type... this should tell you what your source is!

Need help with this?  Send me an email or contact the reference desk (973-720-2116).

Throughout your research, you'll come across many resources of varying degrees of scholarship. 

For the most part, academic research (especially graduate research) relies on scholarly books and articles.

Many of the Library's databases will allow you to limit your searches to just these types of resources (also sometimes called Peer-Reviewed, Academic, or Refereed).

But, for others, popular or trade magazines, and even newspapers, may be appropriate, especially when researching relatively new topics. 

Therefore, it's important that you consider the source of your information carefully when researching.

When referring to articles and periodicals, there are a few formats to be aware of:

Scholarly Journals:     Scholarly journals are generally written by researchers and scholars for other researchers and scholars.  Articles are research-based and will often undergo a peer-review process through which other experts in the field review and critique articles prior to publication.

Trade Publications:
Trade publications are often considered to fall between scholarly journals and popular magazines, and often focus on a particular industry.  Articles are generally written by practitioners/specialists in the field and discuss industry trends, methods and techiques, benchmark information and relevant news.

Popular Magazines:
Popular magazines are often written by reporters or journalists, with articles focusing on current events or popular topics.  References are generally not included.


Newspapers can cover the most current events on a topic or provide a historical perspective to an issue or event.  These are not scholarly sources, but can be valuable for context.


For a more detailed description, watch this short tutorial: Scholarly v. Popular.

In terms of books, publications are often considered scholarly when they have been published by a university press (Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, etc.).

Off Campus Access?

Use your WPUNJ username and password to access these, and many other Library services, from off-campus.

Suggested Databases

Suggested Databases

Use the dropdown menu on the tabs, above, or the following links to see a list of recommended databases to use in your music research. 

All students should make use of the Databases for Everyone page while also taking advantage of the degree-specific databases available to you.

The Music Index

The Music Index is what we used to find music literature before online databases, and is a print Subject-Author guide.  

The library owns copies of the Music Index from 1949-1996, which is about the time that most of our databsaes start indexing articles.

Each volume contains the articles written during that year, and can be searched by title, author/composer/band, or subject.

Remember, if you're researching an older topic, this is a resource that you shouldn't miss!  

Be sure to conduct searches in as many volumes as is necessary to cover your topic.

Getting to Full-Text

Check out the Getting Resources tab to find out how to access books and articles through the Library and beyond.