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Browse and search FAQs

  • SFU Library uses the word database for any electronic periodical index or journal article search engine.

    View the SFU library databases list to find a database in your area of study.

  • Definition

    A DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique number used to permanently identify online articles, documents, and other objects -- including journal articles in electronic databases, datasets, audio/video content, and research reports.

    Because the DOI is permanent, this is a more reliable way to tell your reader where you found the article than location information like a URL or a database name, which may change over time or be hidden behind a proxy server.

    A DOI is made up of a string of numbers, letters, and symbols, e.g.:

    • DOI: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000002295
    • 10.1093/jahist/jay280

    Find an article, dataset, or other object from a DOI

    You can use a DOI resolver to track down known articles for which you have a DOI number. Just copy and paste the DOI to be directed to the article. 



  • A footnote is a numbered or marked citation at the bottom of a page that acknowledges the source of quotations or ideas discussed in the text of the above page. Can also appear at the end of a chapter, book or article. Some citation styles allow a parenthetical reference instead of a numbered footnote.

  • Definitions

    Journal articles are shorter than books and written about very specific topics. 

    journal is a collection of articles (like a magazine) that is published regularly throughout the year. Journals present the most recent research, and journal articles are written by experts, for experts. They may be published in print or online formats, or both. 

    Sample images

    The front cover of a sample academic journal (PORTAL: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies). Note that it includes a year, as well as "Vol." (for "Volume") and "No." (for "Number"). Because journals are published regularly, this information identifies different issues (like month and year on a popular magazine).

    Cover of journal: Portal: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies


    A sample table of contents from the same academic journal, listing the articles that appear in this issue. (Note: When accessing journals online, articles are usually available as separate PDF documents.)

    sample table of contents page from an academic journal, showing article titles and authors, as well as links for accessing each article.


    A sample article (first page) from the same academic journal:

    the first page of a sample article from an academic journal, showing the title, authors, abstract, and keywords.

    More information

    Finding academic or scholarly journal articles
    Tips for searching for journal articles in the Library.

    What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?
    For the differences between scholarly journals, magazines, and trade publications -- and when to use them.

    Finding and evaluating sources
    Searching for and evaluating sources on the open web, with tips for evaluating all sources, including journals and journal articles.

    What is peer review? What is a peer-reviewed journal?
    What peer review means and how to tell if a journal is peer-reviewed.


  • Most users of the SFU Library (SFU students, faculty, and staff) can use their SFU computing ID to log into the Library Catalogue, and access licenced Library resources from off-campus. 

    If you have an SFU ID card but not an SFU computing ID, follow these instructions to use your barcode to access Library resources.

    Finding your Library barcode on your SFU ID card 

    Your SFU Library barcode is the number that begins with 29345... on your SFU ID card, which is also your library cardIt is not the same as your student number.

    Your barcode is private information. Do not share your barcode with anyone or use it for any purpose not expressly permitted by the SFU Library.

    Use your barcode to log in to your account and Library resources

    Some borrowers, including non-credit students and external borrowers, don't have SFU computing IDs. If you don't have a SFU computing ID but do have a library barcode, you can use it to:

    How to log in


    Use for Library barcode number to log in to the Catalogue.


    Your initial (default) password will be based on your last name:

    If your last name is at least 8 characters long, your password will be your last name as it appears in your Library record (case sensitive).

     Note: your password is case-sensitive: MacKenzie is treated differently than mackenzie.

    If your last name is shorter than 8 characters

    For shorter names, the first time you log in your password will:

    • be your last name as it appears in your Library record (case sensitive)
    • also have the number 1 as a place holder up to 8 spaces.
    Example: Last name is Qi          Example: Last name is McLeod        Example: Last name is Millhauser
    Password: Qi111111             Password: McLeod11         Password: Millhauser

    Choosing a new password

    You have the option to reset your password by clicking on: 1) Need help signing in? and then 2) Click here to reset your password.

    Your new password must be at least 8 characters long.

    Contact us for more help or to request a barcode

    Talk to staff in in Access Services (Loans and Circulation) for more help, including:

    • To get help with your barcode password
    • To request a Library barcode if you don't have a Library/student card

    778.782.4345 - W.A.C. Bennett Library, SFU Burnaby

    778.782.5050 - Belzberg Library, SFU Vancouver

    778.782.7411 - Fraser Library, SFU Surrey


  • What is a literature Review?

    Literature reviews periodically integrate the findings on a topic. They summarize studies and try to makes sense of the pattern of findings. They draw conclusions about what is known, what is not, and what should be. They are often a good place to begin studying the research on something. Meta-analyses are quantitative literature reviews, combining statistical findings across very different studies.

    from: Dr. Hal S. Kopeikin's Introduction to Experimental Psychology class at UC Santa Barbara.

    How do I find a literature review?

    There is no consensus among the article databases for what subject headings are used to denote review articles. The most popular is, unsurprisingly, "literature review(s)". The easiest way to search, then, is to do a subject search and then narrow it down with the keyword "review". It will sometimes pull up book reviews, but that can't be helped.

    Here are a few other terms you can use:

    • "review article"
    • "literature"
    • "bibliography"
    • "meta analysis of data"

    Where can I find more information about writing and locating literature reviews?

    For further assistance,  Ask Us!

  • A monograph is a book, pamphlet or document that is complete in itself; it's the opposite of a periodical or serial publication which are continuing resources.

  • A periodical index is a subject, author and keyword index to a selected list of periodicals; it's the key to finding articles on a particular topic. If the index also summarizes the contents of an article, it is called an abstract.
  • What is a recall?

    A recall is a request to have a borrower bring back a semester book before the due date.

    Once a book is recalled, the person who has borrowed the book will have three weeks to return it. 

    How do I recall a book that someone else has checked out?

    Once you have found the book you want in the Library Catalogue, sign in and select "Request item." (Don't see the "Request item" option? Make sure you sign in to the Library Catalogue.)

    When the book is returned we will send you a notification and hold it for you.

    If your book is recalled

    If you have checked out a book and another library borrower requests (recalls) it, you will receive a notification telling you to return the book to the library within three weeks. 

    To see if someone else has recalled any of your books view your library record.

    More questions?

    For more about signing in and requesting items, see Why and how should I sign into the Library Catalogue?

  • Research guides are created by subject-specialist librarians to recommend resources and search strategies by subject (including academic disciplines and courses), as well as format and publication type.