The search box on the Libraries' homepage is a great tool to help you get started finding articles. Just click on the Articles tab, and enter your search terms into the box. When you search in this box, you are searching a large multidisciplinary article database called Summon. But sometimes you might want use another tool besides Summon, one that's more focused in a specific subject area. In these cases, you may want to try searching the Libraries' subject-specific databases.
You can get to these more specialized databases by clicking the Databases link beneath the main search box. This will take you to a new page allowing you to find databases that are more specific to your subject area. If you already know what database you are looking for, you can use the alphabetical listing under "Select databases by name." But more likely, if you're trying to identify a database to start with, you'll want to look down at the section with the heading "Select databases by subject." In the left column, you'll see major subject categories covering a variety of disciplines like Agriculture, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences. They are organized much like the academic departments at NC State.
Let's say my topic is racial profiling, which is the term for when police decide to use enforcement based on someone's race or ethnicity. I know this topic is related to political science, which is a Social Science, so I'll click on the tab for Social Sciences. Now there is a list of subcategories to help me get to the right set of tools. In this list of subcategories, I see Political Science, but I also see other subcategories that could be useful for this topic, like Criminology and Sociology. But for now, I'll stick with Political Science.
The link takes me to a list of databases that librarians recommend for political science research. Each database has a description underneath its link to help me decide whether or not to use it. Once I find one I like, I can click on it and begin searching in that database, and discover information more closely related to my topic.
There are too many different databases to describe them all in detail, but even though every database looks a little different, they often have similar features. Look for things like tools to filter by date or subject, options for e-mailing articles or citations to yourself, and links to help pages. These tools usually appear at the top or sides of the database's website.
If you need help finding information or deciding which database might be best for your research, remember that you can always ask a librarian for help.