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Capstone & Thesis Research

This guide walks you through steps you might take to complete your major paper or project.

Journals (e.g., peer-reviewed) vs. popular magazines

examples of journals, trade publications and magazines and scholarly versus popular

Types of periodicals / articles

Scholarly/academic journals, e.g. Academy of Management Review, may be peer-reviewed and publish experimental or theoretical research in a discipline.

Trade publications, like Government Procurement and Accounting Today, inform or educate professionals in an industry or management function.

Popular magazines, like Time, Bloomberg Businessweek, Harvard Business Review, and newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, inform or entertain the general public.

If in doubt, ask your professor what kinds of periodicals they prefer that you to use for the assignment.

Selecting a database

To find a database, use our main database page or the research guides by academic department to select your area of study. Based on the description, select databases that seem most relevant to your topic. It can be helpful to search databases from other disciplines as well. For instance, a topic from human resources might benefit from articles found in a psychology database (e.g. PsycInfo) as well as a business database (e.g. Business Source Complete).

Here are a few of our most popular databases:

Searching a database for articles

Try a few search terms relating to your topic. Start with the most important two or three.  Often, it is necessary to change terms slightly or use synonyms to get the most relevant articles. If you get too many results, consider adding a search term to make your search more specific. Likewise, if you only receive a handful of results, broadening your search by removing a search term, or searching for synonyms, might result in a more successful search.

Let's use the following thesis statement as a search example:

The benefits to companies whose employees use social media at work outweigh the negatives.

search in Business Source databaseCombine your most important terms using AND

social media AND employees

Found too few, add synonyms using OR

(social media OR facebook) AND employees

Found too much?  Add another concept using another AND

(social media OR facebook) AND employees AND productivity

Search tip: Need to search for variant endings of a word?  Use the truncation (or wildcard) character.  In most library databases, that is the asterisk or star character.  For example, manag* will find manage, management, manager, etc.


Sidebars and limiters

Most of the library's databases provide tools on the left- or right-hand side of the results screen with options to help narrow down your search. This is where you can apply different limiters, sometimes called filters, to your initial search terms.

Limiter options might include:

  • Publication date
  • Resource type
  • Subject terms
  • Geography

Some helpful tips, when searching:

  • Check the box "Peer Reviewed" if your professor specifies that you need academic or scholarly articles
  • Check the box "Full Text" if you need an article at that moment and cannot wait for an article to be delivered

Academic Search Complete picture of the Refine Results section of a search to show limiters locations

Database features: Article full-text, citations, and saving articles to folders

Here are a couple of tip sheets on using advanced features within Webster University Libraries' databases, which include:

  • Full-text: where to locate the full text of an article
  • Cite tool: how to generate a citation, e.g., in APA or MLA format
  • Folder tool: how to save items to EBSCO folders for future use

Watch and learn with Webster U. Library online presentations: