Research Help

Ask a Librarian

  • E-mail: for research assistance and help with online resources. to renew books, reserve study rooms, ask about a library card, etc. We'll normally respond within one business day.
  • Chat: Click on the "Library Chat" widget in the lower right corner of the page. When the widget says "Ask a Librarian," you can use it to send an inquiry by email and we'll reply as soon as possible.
  • Phone: Research Help (479) 524-7153 or Circulation Services (479) 524-7202.
  • Visit: Located in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) at John Brown University.


Do It Yourself

I need help brainstorming a topic or identifying related search terms

The Mind Map tool (from Credo Reference) or Topic Finder (from Academic OneFile) can help you find concepts related to your original search term. You can use these to narrow your focus or find related terms to improve your search results.

I need an overview of a topic

Look in Encyclopedias & Reference in our online resources (Credo Reference is a good starting point) for concise, academically credible articles that will help orient you to a topic or field of research. You can also ask a Research Librarian to show you print reference books related to your topic.

I need articles

For best results, use Resources for all Subjects to find the best databases for your area of study. (PRO TIP: Some key databases, including ATLA Religion Database, Business Source Elite, and PsycINFO, are NOT included in the "All" tab in the library search box. If you are researching in these subject areas, it's especially important to use the appropriate database.)

To cross-search multiple databases at once, use Discovery (the "All" tab on the library search box) to search for articles and other kinds of documents. You can also try ProQuest Central or one of our other multi-disciplinary databases

I need books

Use the JBU Catalog (the "books" tab on the library search box) to find books in our collection and to find out where they are located in the library. If you're looking for a particular title, Discovery can tell you whether we have it. If we don't have it, Discovery can give you a link to request it from another library through Interlibrary Loan.

The computer says you have this book, but I can't figure out where to look for it

If Discovery says "Held by: John Brown University Library," click on the words "John Brown University Library" to get to the holding information and call number for that book. If following the link doesn't work, try searching for the title again directly in the JBU Catalog

If the record in Discovery is for an ebook, journal article, or other electronic resource, look for the button that says "Access Online." If you have trouble accessing materials that appear in our databases, please ask a Librarian for assistance.

Because Discovery is drawing from dozens of different databases that don't always work well with each other, sometimes it get things wrong. We apologize for the frustration when it says we have a resource but doesn't provide a working link or call number. Please let us know when this happens so we can try to get you the materials you need and improve your search experience.

I found the call number, now where do I find the actual book?

First, look at the "Shelf Location" in the library catalog to see which library collection the book is in. The great majority of JBU Library books are in the Main Collection. If a different collection is listed (e.g., Reference, Reserve, Oliver Room, etc.), ask someone at the research help or circulation desk for directions or see our collections list for more information on where to look for your book.

Books in the JBU Library are shelved according to the Library of Congress classification system. For an overview of how to find books following their Library of Congress call numbers, see this video (from University of Arkansas). For books in the main collection, call numbers beginning with A-B are on the first floor; call numbers C-Z are upstairs. Feel free to ask for assistance if you need help locating a particular book in our collection.

I need ebooks

The eBooks tab on the library search box gives easy access to our two largest eBook collections, EBSCO eBooks and ProQuest Ebook Central. For a comprehensive list of eBook collections available through JBU library, see Books under Resources For All Subjects. (PRO TIP: The "All" tab on the library search box gives unreliable results when searching for eBooks in particular. For best results search the eBook collections separately.)

I need a specific periodical (e.g. The New Yorker or Christian Scholars Review)

Use Journal Titles search to find out what access (print and electronic) JBU provides for that publication. If we do not have full text access to the journal you need, you can request articles through Interlibrary Loan.

I need "academic" or "scholarly" sources

See this summary for an overview of the distinction between academic and popular works. Consult your instructor or a librarian if you need help evaluating a particular source.

A shortcut for articles: In most of our databases (e.g., Discovery, ProQuest), look for the check box that limits your search to “Peer Reviewed” and/or “Scholarly Journals” to find publications that are generally recognized as scholarly sources.

For books and ebooks, the distinction between a popular publication and a scholarly publication can sometimes be a little fuzzy. Some of the library’s ebook collections (e.g., Springer ebooks) contain scholarly books only, but others (e.g. ProQuest Ebook Central) contain a mix of popular and scholarly publications. Some clues that a book is likely to be considered scholarly include: (1) it has an index and bibliography, (2) its author is identified by her or his academic credentials (e.g., Ph.D., affiliated with a university or research lab), (3) it is published by a university press. 

I have a different question that's not addressed here

Ask a Librarian for personalized advice.

I can't even figure out what question I need to ask to get started on my research

That's OK! Come talk to a librarian, even if you don't know exactly what you're looking for. We'll ask you about your assignment and figure out some strategies to find the information you need.

JBU Library Search

Search for articles and books in over 20 databases. Advanced Search

Tip: Use quotes for an exact match.

Search ProQuest ebrary or EBSCO for electronic books.

Search the JBU library catalog for books.

Search for journals, magazines, and newspapers by title. Results are for full-text availability. Browse by Subject