As an example, let’s try looking for articles about that perennial papa of pop, Paul Anka.
The best place to start when searching for magazine articles is an index. An article index can be a book or an online resource, and it is used to look up a subject (Paul Anka, perhaps?) and find a list of articles that were written about that subject. To learn more about this former teen idol, we will use three important databases to search for articles. Each of these databases is an index, and they also often contain the full text of many articles.
What did magazines say about Paul back in the early 1960s when he was just starting out? Readers’ Guide Retrospective indexes magazines from a very wide range of years, all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century. Since this database includes so many articles from so many years, it is a good idea to limit the date for your search. Many of the results in Readers’ Guide Retrospective are citations: they don’t include the full text of the article, but they do tell you which magazine it was in. Once you have the information about which magazine and date the article was in (the citation), you can check to see if the library has the magazine you need - to learn how to do that, look at “How to find magazines and magazine articles (I want my Bieber!)” According to a November 3, 1961, article from Time that is available full-text in this database, Paul always goes on stage with the goal “to comfort the people.” Oh, Paul...
So that was the 1960s, but what are magazines writing about Paul now? MasterFILE Premier is a good all-purpose database which indexes articles from lots of current magazines, and it also has most of them in full-text. Jubilation! You can read book reviews about Paul’s recent autobiography, My Way, and find articles like a May 2013 profile in Vanity Fair by his longtime acquaintance Jerry Weintraub. What does Weintraub value most in Paul? “It’s his friendship.” You don’t have to be a lonely boy when you get to know Paul.
If you want to find articles from outside of the mainstream magazines, JSTOR is a great database. It includes citations and full-text articles from many different specialty magazines and academic journals. Since it includes so many articles, it can help to do an Advanced Search in this database and then narrow your search by choosing discipline areas (for example, you could do an advanced search for Paul Anka and limit the search to magazines related to the subject “Music”). You can find some interesting stuff in JSTOR, like a poem from the Summer 1986 Sewanee Review which includes the line: “Paul Anka / Of Sri Lanka”.
There you have it: the times of Paul’s life (or at least some of them). These three databases are just the beginning: you can find more ways to search for articles on the Research Tools page (use the "Type" menu to choose databases which have articles). If you would like some help picking out additional databases and indexes to try, then let us get to know you. Just contact a librarian and tell us more about what you are searching for. We can work with you to find the articles you need for your project or your personal interest. Any time and ogni volta, we’re here to help!