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Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 3
PERIODICAL INDEXES & ABSTRACTS
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image of periodical index page
  Periodical Indexes offer citations to articles in periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.) and often other works.

P
eriodical Abstracts
offer citations and abstracts (short summaries) for articles in periodicals and often other works.

Periodical indexes and abstracts are excellent search tools to use when trying to locate material for research projects due to the breadth of coverage they offer. In addition to citations and abstracts for articles, periodical indexes and abstracts usually include citations for parts of books, book reviews, dissertations, conference proceedings, pamphlets, and government documents.

Also, coverage in print periodical indexes and periodical abstracts extends further back than most databases because they are an older "finding tool" than databases. Some of these search tools are general and cover many subjects, while others are subject specific. Most often, they include listings for publications within a specific time frame and are published in yearly volumes. Therefore, locating information relevant to specific years is relatively easy.

In addition, entries in periodical indexes and abstracts are arranged by subject and then by subsets of the subject. Main terms are in bold-face and include cross references, making the tools easy to navigate. In addition, the terminology used to organize the entries often indicates excellent search terms to use when searching with other search tools like library catalogs and databases.

Each citation in a periodical index or abstract offers enough information (e.g. title, source, date, pages, etc.) that researchers know exactly where a desired article can be found.

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Periodical indexes and periodical abstracts are useful
•  when you need articles (especially older articles),
•  when you are brainstorming ideas for a research topic,
•  when you know a subject, but not a specific article,
•  when you want to determine what search terms to try, and
•  when you want to "browse" topics being addressed in a field during specific time periods.

Unit 6 offers more in-depth information about using the libraries' print periodical indexes and periodical abstracts.

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Updated 7/2004