Library Instruction

Ask a Librarian

Steenbock librarians are here to help with your library research. We can

  • help locate journal articles and books
  • recommend databases and other resources
  • suggest strategies to use for literature searches
  • set up a literature alert on your research topic
  • help decipher incomplete or incorrect citations
  • explain how to use library services
Stop by or contact us with your question. We are also available for individual consultation, in your laboratory or office or at the library, as well as for departmental seminars, meetings or brown-bag sessions.

Finding Articles

Use a journal, magazine or newspaper database to identify articles on your topic. Here are the steps.

1. Choose one or two good databases

2. Decide which terms and database search features you'll use

3. Decide which articles you want to read

4. Locate a copy of the article

5. Cite the article in your writing

Cited Reference Searching

This allows you to look up who has cited a paper after it has been published. Two databases that offer cited reference searching are:

  • ISI Web of Knowledge/Science - the most well known
  • PsycINFO

To perform a cited reference search in Web of Knowledge/Science, follow the steps below or watch this video.

  1. Select the "cited reference search" option.
  2. In the Cited Author box, type the last name, then first and middle initials of the first author of a paper. If you are unsure of the middle initial, substitute the wild card *. For example, Dobermann, P*
  3. Leave the Cited Work field blank.
  4. In the Cited Year box, type the year the paper was published and select Search.
  5. Locate the reference for the paper on the subsequent screen and check the box in front of it. Select Finish Search.
  6. The list of references on the subsequent page will be papers that have cited the original paper. Select any of these references to explore it further and possibly go to the full text with the FindIt button.

Database Specific Tips

There are several ways to get help on using databases. Consult any of the following for more information.

  • Contact us for help selecting and using any database.
  • Check Videos and Podcasts for tips in using specific databases.
  • Quickguides are developed by campus librarians and give simple instructions for many common tasks.
  • Look for Help or Search Tips within the database itself.
  • Visit Research Tips & Tricks for helpful videos and tipsheets.
  • Attend a workshop to learn how to use databases effectively.

Finding Books

  1. The Library Catalog tells you if UW Madison owns books or other materials. Catalog Help

    Use Basic Search when:

      • You know the exact title, or the first few words
      • You wish to browse an author’s list of books

    Use Guided Search when:

      • You’re looking for items about a subject or person
      • You’d like to enter keywords to find items on a topic
      • You’re not sure of the first word(s) of a title
  2. If you can't locate the item you need at UW-Madison, try
    • a UW System search to see if it is owned on another UW System campus and have it transferred to a UW Madison library.
  3. If you still aren't able to find what you want or want to search further, try
    • WorldCat, a catalog of more than 49 million books and other materials owned by over 9,000 member libraries around the world, including UW-Madison and the Library of Congress. Video: Using WorldCat
  4. Madison Public Library's LinkCat may also be a good resource for some topics.

Finding Government Documents

Searching for Publications
  • Use Google's advanced search
    Many government agencies make their recent publications available on their web sites. Limit your search to the appropriate domain (.gov, .mil,, etc.) for more targeted searches. Google search tips
  • Library Catalog
    Government documents are distributed across campus libraries. Most government publications published after 1976 are listed with the library location. Many government publications are cataloged only under the series title.
  • Databases
    Some journal and information databases that include citations to government publications are AGRICOLA, AGRIS, GPO Monthly Catalog, PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service), Wildlife and Ecology Studies Worldwide, and Fish & Fisheries Worldwide.

More information on finding and citing government documents

Google for Academic Research


Google Scholar

  • Scholarly focus
  • Academic publishers
  • Professional papers and conference proceedings
  • Online journals and reprinted articles
  • Use the Advanced Search to get more control of your search

Google Books

  • Search the full text of books to find ones that interest you and learn where to borrow or buy them
  • Phrases, keywords or characters that won’t appear in an online catalog

Citing Sources / Bibliographies

  • RefWorks Preview Styles - See examples of how to cite references in-text and for bibliographies. Lots of source types and citation styles!
    1. Open RefWorks
    2. Click Bibliography
    3. Click Preview Styles
    4. Select Preview style
    5. Uncheck Use References from your account.