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Distance Learning : Articles

This guide provides information for MTSU and TN eCampus distance learners and their instructors.

Parts of a Scholarly Article

Parts can be combined depending upon the journal publisher's preferred format. The most commonly combined sections are: (1) introduction with literature review; and (2) results with discussion.

  • Abstract--summary of the article
  • Introduction--why the research was done
  • Literature Review -- previously published research about the same or related topics
  • Materials and Methods--how the research was done
  • Results--what the data revealed
  • Discussion--opinion or importance of the results
  • Conclusion-- decision or opinion formed based on the results
  • References--list of citations for all published research mentioned within the article

Article Delivery (Print or Unowned)

While the library has many full-text journal and newspaper articles available online, you may need some that are not.

Getting an article MTSU owns in print
  • Request the article through the Interlibrary Loan system. You will login with your Pipeline username and password. The first time you use ILLiad, you must enter your contact information. When doing so, make sure to indicate in the Status field that you are a Distance Student or ROCC/RODP student. You must have a library borrower card or MTSU student ID to use this system. If you don't have one, contact Sharon Parente at
  • Please be sure to include complete citation information.
  • You must live outside of Rutherford County, be currently enrolled in an MTSU distance education or ROCC/RODP course (with MTSU as your home school), and have no on-campus classes to use this service (if you live closer, we ask that you come into the library to make a copy of the article).
  • Delivery of locally owned items often occurs within two days (not including weekends).
Getting an article MTSU DOES NOT own
  • If MTSU does NOT own the article in print, you may order it from another library through Interlibrary Loan. Make sure to indicate that you are a Distance Student.
  • You will need your M number to use ILLIAD. You may find your M number on your MTSU ID card or by logging in to your Pipeline account and going to Raidernet>Personal Information. If you have questions, contact Sharon Parente at
  • If you are not sure whether MTSU owns the article, use the Journal Locator to search for the periodical.
  • Be sure to include full citation information: title, author, publication, year, volume, pages, etc.
  • Items ordered from other libraries may take a few days or up to three weeks, so plan ahead.

Getting Started Searching for Articles

The JEWL (James E. Walker Library) Search box located on the homepage allows you to look for articles, books, videos and more from a single location.  This is quite extensive and is like doing a Google search of your library resources.  However, not all of our library article databases are searchable through the JEWL SEARCH.  For example, our best article database for sociology (Sociological Abstracts) is not included in the JEWL SEARCH.  You can access it from either the Databases A-Z link or go to Research Guides and pull up the guide for Sociology which will provide links to Sociological Abstracts as well as related databases.  There is nearly always a database that focuses just upon your main subject discipline so be sure to take advantage of the Research Guides. 

JEWL Search box with arrows highlighting links to Databases A to Z and Research Guides

Here is a example of how to locate articles using the JEWL SEARCH:

If I perform a search on autism education I return over 18,000 results.  Yes, this is a lot, but I am also presented with a great many ways to quickly and easily narrow down my results. 

Seeing so many results I may want to narrow down my topic further by adding elementary on the next line of the search box.  Combining autism education with elementary using the AND operator ensures that I will return only resources with both concepts.

autism education on top search line and elementary on second search line

This narrows my results down to just over 1,500.  Now we are going to refine our results by selecting the Scholarly/Peer Reviewed/Academic limit while also also limiting the publication date to the last 10 years (2008-2018) using the Publication Date slide bar.  Depending upon the topic searched you may also be offered the option to limit to news, magazine, and trade publication articles.

I now have just over 800 results.  I can continue using the limits on the left-hand side.  If I am unhappy with my results after any limit all I have to do is to click on the  next to the Limiters to remove it and restore my previous results.

Search results limited by scholarly, peer reviewed, academic and by publication date from 2008 through 2018


One of the limits on the left-hand side is for Content Provider.  It will show you the individual article databases with the most results for your search.  You should consider searching these databases separately through the DATABASES link or through the Education Resources Research Guide.


Content Provider Limit

We can immediately learn that the ERIC database has 158 search results on our topic and that Education Source has 113 search matches.  If we go to Databases A-Z we can find ERIC in the A-Z listing and click for access.

Databases A through Z

ERIC Listing from Databases A through Z

Searching a database like ERIC separately rather than through JEWL Search provides more refined search limits customized for the subject speciality.  For Example, ERIC has limits for educational levels.

Our LIbrary Research Guides collect together in one place all the best library resources for a specific topic. Click on Research Guides to see the full list.

Subject Guides Listing


Below is a listing of all the Library Research Guides for Education. 

Education Research Guides Listings

Here is a look at our Education Resources online library research guide:

This guide immediately shows you that the library's recommended article databases for education are Education Source, ERIC, and PsycINFO.