Using the Gavilan Library
Specialized Databases


In this tutorial, we'll cover periodical articles. Articles are more current than books, can be published faster, and therefore can provide you with the latest theories, news events, and opinions. We'll look at three different sources for articles:

  • ProQuest will give us articles from newspapers, popular magazines, and professional journals.
  • Congressional Quarterly is a special publication of issues that are currently dominating the news.
  • Opposing Viewpoints draws differing opinions about current controversial issues from a huge database of periodical literature.

From the Library Homepage select the ProQuest icon.You will be taken directly to the Basic Search screen.

ProQuest allows you to search on more than one term. In the example below, the search engine will come back with all articles that contain both the words immigration and reform.

The result list will give you the bibliographic information for each article (author, title, name of the journal, date and page numbers) plus a small icon that will tell you whether the article is available as an abstract (summary) only, the full text, or the complete text and all pictures, graphs, maps or other images.

ProQuest uses Boolean logic to let you combine search terms and narrow in on articles that will truly cover your topic. A search for alternative and medicine brings back all the all the articles that have both the term alternative and the term medicine, the overlapping green area of the two circles on the left.

If we add another term (another circle), the results will be an even smaller area where the 3 circles overlap (the dark brown area in the right circle). Every time you add another term, you'll get fewer results.


Congressional Quarterly is another database that will give you current information on controversial issues

This is a Washington D.C. publishing company that takes pride in presenting unbiased information from both sides of issues that are in the news.

You can look for your topic in the list of recent issues or use the Quick Search box on the left margin.

A search on immigration will bring back 153 different reports that have been printed over the past decade. If you click on the upturned arrow in the right corner, you can have those articles listed by date, with the most recent at the top.

Click on one of the titles to see what's available in this report.

screenshot of CQ Researcher report options

The default display is the Full Report. Use this display to find keywords more specific to your focus. At the top of the screen is a display of the specific divisions that every report contains: an abstract (summary), an overview of the issue, a background of events that have led up to the current situation, a discussion of the current situation, etc. In the Pro/Con section, a specific issue is discussed by an expert in the area discussing one side, and another expert defending the other side. The bibliography section will give you a list of all the sources (books, articles, government reports, etc.) used by the CQ Researcher editors.

You can use this list, and Proquest (the periodical database) to find the full text of those articles.

If you click on the CiteNow! link (boxed in blue on the image above, you'll be given the complete citation for this report.


Opposing Viewpoints is another database devoted to showing both sides of controversial issues. Scan through the list of topics, or type in your search terms in the search box at the top.

Your result list will display a limited number of articles that present specific and obvious points of view on the subject. By clicking on the title of an article, you can see the full text.

At the top of the screen are more options:

The Reference tab (boxed in blue in the image above) will give you a limited number of overview articles, mostly from academic or scholarly journals. The Magazines & Newspapers tab (circled in red) will give you a much longer list of articles, most of them from popular magazines and daily local newspapers. You can use your Find function to locate key words in any of these articles.

The Statistics tab gives you a list of statistical tables or graphs that illustrate the subject in a numerical manner.

The Websites tab will give you a list of selected Internet sites you can search for more information.

screenshot of statistical table in Opposing Viewpoints

These sites are hand-picked by the editors of Opposing Viewpoints, and should be reliable and current. However, there are specific evaluation techniques that you, as the consumer, should be applying to any Internet site. We'll cover these techniques in the next module.

Please contact us at the Gavilan College Library Reference Desk if you have any questions. We are available during library hours at the reference desk, by telephone at 408-848-4806 or by email at


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Last Updated: 07/19/2006

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