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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

High school research at UMW

A guide to the UMW Libraries for high school students

Journal articles

Clip art of documentsScholarly journals (a.k.a. "academic journals") are similar to magazines, in that they publish regular issues. But, unlike the articles in magazines, the articles in scholarly journals are written by scholars, and are meant to be read by other scholars.

Scholarly journals publish various types of articles. Some types of articles are typically peer-reviewed before publication, including all of the following:

  • Studies that analyze data, including data from surveys or scientific experiments
  • Meta-analyses, which analyze data from multiple studies
  • Literature reviews, which summarize multiple studies on a particular subject
  • Case studies, which document particular cases (that is, events or instances of something)
  • Art criticism, such as literature criticism or film criticism
  • Articles that describe new theories or concepts or methods
  • Conference proceedings

Scholarly journals sometimes publish articles that are not peer-reviewed, such as the following:

  • Letters to the journal
  • Editorials or other opinion pieces
  • Book reviews


A database is an electronic collection of journal articles or other documents. Most journals are not available for free. Schools pay subscription fees to give students access to copyrighted content.

Note: Some journals ARE available for free on the Internet. These are called open-access journals, and you can search them using the Directory of Open Access Journals.

UMW pays for subscriptions to approximately 200 databases. These databases are accessible only on UMW library computers. UMW Libraries invites high school students to come and use its computers at Simpson Library, located on the Fredericksburg campus.

Three computers for visitors, on the first floor of Simpson Library


When you find an article in a database, you can save the article to a flash drive, or email it to yourself, or print it (at a cost of 10 cents per page).

Which database should I use?

When you use the UMW databases, you need to decide which of the 200 databases to search. You have a couple of options:

Option 1: Go to the list of all databases, look for the drop-down menu that says "All subjects," and select your subject from the menu.

Screen capture of the Database Subjects menu

Option 2: Use QuestQuest is a tool for searching many databases at once. Nearly all of the UMW databases are searchable using Quest. When you do a search in Quest, you'll get results from many different databases, combined into one big list.

The Quest logo -- a capital letter Q wearing a wizard's hat