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Writing at Mat-Su College

A guide for students taking English, particularly English 111, at Mat-Su College.

What does finding an article from a citation mean?

As you read scholarly journal articles you will see authors refer to other articles. Sometimes these other articles would be useful to read. Every time they mention another article, they include a citation. A citation will help you find that other article.

According to, a citation is  "the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including:

  • information about the author
  • the title of the work
  • the name and location of the company that published your copy of the source
  • the date your copy was published
  • the page numbers of the material you are borrowing"

Citations come in two forms: the in-text citation, and the citation at the end of the paper. I'll talk about both of these briefly, and demonstrate how to use them to go from one article to another.

Start with the in-text citation

Imagine you are reading an article on the health effects of chocolate. You come to a paragraph where the author summarizes past studies. The paragraph mentions one study -- highlighted below -- that sounds interesting to you. The paragraph might look like this:

Some recent studies in psychology have been carried out in healthy subjects to determine whether intake of flavanols in cocoa-based berverage can improve performance in demanding tests of congitive functions. In one study, subjects received one of three doses of flavanols on the day of tests (Scholey et al., 2010). In that study, the subjects that received the high-dose flavanol beverage showed enhanced performance...

How can you find more information on this study? Your first clue is in the in-text citation, the part inside quotation marks: (Scholey et al. 2010). But this isn't much information. It tells only when and who wrote the article, not where to find it. That's okay. The in-text citation's purpose is to help us find the full citation in the works cited section (also called a bibliography).

Move on to the works cited citations

Each in-text citation points to a full citation in the Works Cited or Bibliography section. A works cited section with Scholey's article highlighted looks like this:

Screenshot of journal article's Works Cited section

We know that this is what the in-text citation refers to because it is the only one for Scholey. If there was more than one Scholey article listed here we would also want to consider the dates.

Now we have a year and a name, and plus the name of the article, the name of the journal it appeared in, and the page numbers. This is what we need to find the full article through the library's website. This is what we need to start looking for the article.

The quick way to find an article from a citation

In some cases we can find an article just by typing its name and the name of its author into the QuickSearch search box on the library website:

Screenshot of "Scholey Consumption of Cocoa Flavanols" typed into QuickSearch search box

Then click the title in the search results

Screenshot of QuickSearch search results showing Scholey article

Another way to find an article from a citation

Sometimes the article you wish to find will not be available through QuickSearch. In these cases you can use the library's Citation Matcher tool.

Start by clicking "Journals by Title" on the library website:

Screenshot of "Journals by Title" button

Next, click Screenshot of citation matcher button"Citation Matcher":

Screenshot of "Citation Matcher" link

At the Citation Matcher page, enter the details of the article you want and press "Look Up":

Screenshot of Citation Matcher interface

If the library has access to the article you search for in this way, you should be brought straight to it.

If all else fails...

If Citation Matcher can't find your article, it means that we do not have online access to it. Fortunately, through our Interlibrary Loan service we can request a copy of the article from a library that does have access. This service is free, fast, and greatly expands the amount of material you have access to.

To request an article (or any other item) that you can't find through the library, just click the Interlibrary Loan button on the library website: 

Screenshot showing location of Interlibrary Loan link on college webiste

Now just fill out the appropriate form, click submit, and wait for a phone call telling you your item is in! For more information about Interlibrary Loan or the status of your request please contact the library.