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HON 390

Citation Pearl Searching

Pearl growing is a research technique that uses one relevant article as the basis for finding other relevant articles.

If you found only a few good articles on your topic, take a close  look at their references (citations). A single good article is much like a precious pearl. Its subject headings and sometimes the words in its title or abstract may give you ideas for making more and better searches.

Step One

The first thing you do is find one relevant article, using either a keyword search or a subject search in the database of your field.

Step Two

As you read the article you chose, highlight  new keywords, the names of frequently cited researchers, book titles, related theories, unique phrases, associations, assessments, and websites.

Use new keywords, unique phrases, assessments, and related theories as keyword searches in your database of choice. They may lead you to other articles of interest.

To find other articles written by frequently cited researchers, open the database of your field, go to the advanced search page, and type in the researcher's last name and first initial. Change the drop-down menu to "Author" and search. Your results will include articles written by that researcher.

To find books whose titles appear in your article, open the library catalog, type in the title of the book, change the drop-down menu to "Title" and search. If we have the book, write down the call number and check the book out. If we don't have the book, use ILL to borrow the book from another library.

Step Three

Return to your original article. Read the article again, highlighting pertinent passages that include in-text citations. Follow each highlighted citation to its partner in the reference list.

Use Journal Finder to find out if the library has a referenced article. You will need the title of the journal and the year the article was published in it. If we have the journal, there will be a link to the journal and you can search it for the article you need. If we don't have the journal, you can request an interlibrary loan.

To find books whose titles appeared in the reference list, open the library catalog, type in the title of the book, change the drop-down menu to "Title" and search. If we have the book, write down the call number and check the book out. If we don't have the book, use ILL to borrow the book from another library.

Your next step is to pearl grow another relevant article, and then another.... By the time you're done, you'll have a clear understanding of the literature surrounding your research problem.

Finding Full Text of Articles

While many research databases contain the full text of articles, in some cases you will only be able to get the citation and abstract (summary) for an article. In that case, your next step is to find out whether you can get the full article in another of the library's databases. To do that, use Find a Journal.

Find A Journal will tell you if the Mundt Library has access to the journal or magazine you need -- either 1) online in another database or 2)  in print in the library.


  • Do a search for the title of the journal or magazine (not the title of the article!).
  • If your search in Find a Journal produces results, pay attention to what years of the magazine/journal are available in each database or in the library. Then link to a database to get to the journal article you need. Note: If in the results you find a link labeled "Check Holdings at Dakota State University Periodicals" then the article is in print in the library rather than online.

EXAMPLE 1--    I discover the following article while doing my research, but I have only this citation (not the full article):

Chapman, Harold. Toward Lung Regeneration.The New England Journal of Medicine 364,19 (May 12, 2011): 1867-1868.

The article is in the journal called The New England Journal of Medicine. With this information, I can go to Find a Journal and search for New England Journal of Medicine. If the title is found, Find a Journal indicates in which databases it's available and for which years.

When I search for New England Journal of Medicine, I get the following results in Journal Finder:

Full text available at: ProQuest Research Library

Available from 1980.
Most recent 3 month(s) not available.

By clicking on the link to Proquest Research Library, I get to a list of issues of New England Journal of Medicine and can select the May 12, 2011 issue. I can then find the specific article in that issue that I need in order to link to the full article.

NOTE: When linking into a database, you will be required to login with your DSU ID and password

  • If your search produces results only in "Check holding at Dakota State University's periodicals," then Madison campus students will go to the Library to get the article. Those who are at a university center or are distance students may request the item through Interlibrary Loan.
  • If your search in Journal Finder produces 0 results, the Library does not have the magazine or journal. To get the article you need, make an Interlibrary Loan Request and the Library will get the article for you from another library.

Interlibrary Loan

Request "Interlibrary Loan" when you need materials (journal articles, books, etc.) that are not available in the Mundt Library and are not accessible online. (NOTE TO DISTANCE STUDENTS: Distance students may use the Interlibrary Loan forms to request delivery of materials to them -- whether located in the Mundt Library or in another library.)

Interlibrary Loan is a service in which libraries borrow from and loan materials to other libraries. You will receive journal articles electronically via email or a web link. Hardcopy items such as books are mailed to the Mundt Library where they are picked up by Madison campus students or they are mailed to distance students.

Information about Interlibrary Loan may be found on the Interlibrary Loan webpage.  A link to the Interlibrary Loan webpage can be found under Services at the top of the library's homepage.

Karl E. Mundt Library, Dakota State University, Madison, South Dakota 57042