Long Island University Logo

Service Highlights: Library Guides

Library Guide 1: Locating Articles in Periodicals: Using Periodical Indexes

Periodicals (magazines, journals, newspapers) are a major source of information, and are especially valuable for current information on a variety of subjects. Periodical indexes can be used to locate articles in these sources.

Periodical indexes are listings of articles, from periodicals, arranged alphabetically by subject. Some indexes cover specific subjects (i.e., The Business Periodicals Index) while others cover a variety of subjects (i.e., Readers' Guide To Periodical Literature).

To link to our electronic journal indexes, click here.


1. Select an index that covers your subject area. The library owns over 80 periodical indexes. For a list of available indexes and their locations see the list, Index List, posted near the third floor information desk. Below are some examples of indexes available in the Brooklyn Campus Library.

Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature (covers most subjects)
Business Periodicals Index
Social Sciences Index
General Humanities Index
Humanities Index

2. Look up the topic in the index. Periodical indexes are arranged alphabetically by subject. For example, to identify articles on reforming American health care, one can look in a recent volume of Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature under HEALTH CARE REFORM. The 2004 volume (Volume 64) lists many articles under that heading, among them:


    Aiding an Ailing Pharma.  S. Forbes v 174 no 10 p35N 15 2004.
    The Decline of the Family Doctor.  P.R. Alper. Policy Review no 124 p41-62 Ap/My 2004
    Putting a Value on Health.  D. Peck Atlantic Monthly (1993) v293 no 1 p142-4 Ja/F 2004

3. Carefully evaluate the list of articles. Once the appropriate articles are found, copy the full citation in the index. A full bibliographic citation includes the title, author and page numbers of an article, as well as the volume, date, and name of the journal it was published in.

4. Check to see if the library subscribes to the periodical. There are several ways to determine which periodicals the library owns: consult the periodicals holding book (located at the Reference Desk on the third floor or the Periodicals Desk on the fourth floor), check in the LIUCAT (the library's online catalog), or check the list of full-text journals (to see if LIU has on-line access). There are several options for obtaining needed materials not available at LIU. You may either request the item from another library through the Interlibrary Loan Department, or obtain a Metro referal to a library where the material is available. Please consult a reference librarian about these options.

5. Fill out a periodicals request slip. To obtain the complete article fill out a request slip for the magazine journal or newspaper, and hand it in at the Periodicals Desk on the fourth floor. A Periodical staff person will retrieve the magazine, journal or newspaper.


1. People's names, company names, and organizations, may also be subjects. For instance, the 1994 volume of Reader's Guide has a substantial number of articles about Fidel Castro. Here is an example of three:


    Castro and pridefall. W.F. Buckley. National Review v46 p78-9 S 26 '94
    Castro Gambles on the dollar. O.Davila Andrade, il World Press Review
          v40 p19-20 O '93
    Castro's Legacy. E.F. Betancourt. Society v31 p66-72 JL/Ag '94

2. Periodical Indexes frequently provide cross references ("See" and "See also" references) that direct the user to the appropriate subject term(s) for the topic. For example, the cross-reference below indicates that articles on IMMIGRANT LABOR will be found under the subject heading ALIEN LABOR not IMMIGRANT LABOR.


The "see also" reference means that in addition to listing articles under the subject heading DISCRIMINATION related articles can be found under the headings Affirmative action, etc.

See also
Affirmative action
Race discrimination
reverse discrimination
sex discrimination


Online databases have emerged as the primary way to locate articles in periodicals. Like the print indexes, they are a compilation of bibliographic citations on particular subjects or information of general interest. The Brooklyn Campus Library subscribes to man of these (see "Online Databases"). Most can be accessed from off campus, an may provide the full text of articles as well as the bibliographic information.

Before attempting to retrieve citations from the online databases, it may be useful to consult a Reference Librarian. A Reference Librarian will assist in choosing the appropriate database (or print index), and help to construct the search so that relevant citations are retrieved.

Revised by P. Salber 11/05
Long Island University Brooklyn Campus LIU Libraries