Library Notes for Political Science

Teaching resources, news, and links to keep McGill’s Political Scientists informed

Better know a database #3: Factiva

Posted by Megan on December 15, 2009

Factiva is an essential source for searching international newspaper articles, as well as business and industry information. It provides the full text of articles from 8,000 publications, including newswires, newspapers, websites, and television transcripts. Over 118 countries are represented, and searching in non-Roman alphabets is supported. The interface itself is available in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.

The Factiva search page offers several options to be completed before searching:

1. Enter keywords
2. Select a date range
3. Select the publication source: by publication name, region or country, industry, language, and type
4. Select which part of the article should be searched: headline only, headline and lead paragraph, or full article


Because you are searching only the full-text of the articles themselves, rather than abstracts or standardized “subject” categories, it’s important to be creative with search queries.

The search screen offers a list of fancy tips when you click on the link labeled Example:

globali?ation will retrieve hits for the word globalization or globalisation. The question mark is used as a single wildcard character. A minimum of three characters must be entered before the question mark. Letters can be entered after the question mark.

cat* will retrieve cats, category, catastrophe, and so on. The asterisk is used at the end of a term. A minimum of three characters must be entered before the asterisk. No values should be entered after the asterisk. There is no limit to the number of characters after the stem word that will be searched.

toyota/F50/ will find the name Toyoto within the first 50 words of the article.

atleast10 Olympics and atleast10 Winter Games will find articles that include the word Olympics and the phrase “Winter Games” at least 10 times.

And many more…

The full text of the article is displayed alongside the search results, and selected articles can be viewed as PDFs, saved, or e-mailed from the same screen.

For more fun: try the audio feature that reads English articles aloud. Factiva also has a new “beta” translate feature, which is useful for helping readers determine the jist of an article in a language they don’t know. (Or at the very least, it’s good for comic relief!)


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