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How to Search the Library

Use this guide to learn how to find books and articles on the library website.

About Research Databases

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Research Databases contain journal, magazine, and newspaper articles or ebooks. 

They are often specific to a certain subject area.  For example: health databases contain articles from health journals, business databases contain articles from business journals, etc. 

Finding the Right Database

Finding the Right Database

Use the Find a Database tab on the library website to access our research databases and find recommended databases based on your topic, class, or program:

  • Alphabet - If you know the name of the database you would like to search, use the alphabet to find databases by name.
  • Subject drop-down - Find recommended databases by the topic your are researching or the class / program you are in.
  • Type drop down - Find databases by the type of source they contain (newspapers, books, articles, etc.)

Find a Database tab

Tip! If you're not sure which database to use, start with: Academic Search Premier or Academic OneFile (Gale)


Click the title of any database listed to begin searching.
  • Best Bets! - Databases listed in the yellow Best Bets! box have been identified as being highly relevant in the subject selected.

List of All-Purpose/Gen-Ed databases

Keywords and Search Strings (Using AND)


Keywords are what you type into a search box.  Looking at your research topic or research question, keywords are the 2-3 words that best describe what you're looking for.

For example, if my topic is:

Listening to music can reduce stress. 

The best keywords would be:

Listening to music can reduce stress

music       stress

checkmark iconWhen searching, don't type full sentences or long phrases into the search box. Don't use any little words like of, the, in, for, etc.


Search Strings

If you are searching with more than one keyword, type the word AND in between your keywords.  This creates a Search String.

Example of creating a search string from a topic:


Should parents limit screen time for their children?

Keywords from Topic

Parents   limit    screen   children

Search Strings using AND  (Use 2-3 of your keywords.  Combine with AND to create a search string.)

Parents  AND  limit  AND  screen

Children  AND  limit  AND  screen

Any of the search strings above can be used in a database search to find articles.


Related Words or Synonyms

Databases match the exact words you type in with the words as they appear in the results.

checkmark iconBy trying different keywords and search strings, you will find new and different results.


Brainstorm Related Words to Create New Search Strings

1. Keywords

Parents   limit    screen   children

2. Related Words

Parents  - guardians

limit  - reduce, monitor

screen  - TV, phone, tablet

children  - kids, child, minor

3. Search Strings using AND (Use 2-3 of your keywords, choosing one word from each set. Combine them with AND to create different combinations).

Parents  AND  monitor AND  screen

Children  AND  limit  AND  TV

Parents  AND  reduce  AND  phone

Searching for Articles: Basic Search

Searching for Articles: Basic Search

Once you select a database, you are brought to the Basic Search page for that database. 

A Basic Search page typically displays one search box in which to type your keywords or search strings.  

You may or may not see additional search limits you can add to narrow your search results (example: a full text checkbox or a publication date limit).



Basic Search in Academic Search Premier:

Basic Search box in Academic Search Premier with search: parent AND limit AND screen


Basic Search in Academic OneFile (Gale):

Basic search box in Academic OneFile with search: parent AND limit AND screen


checkmark icon A Basic Search screen may look different depending on what database you are using.  However, most will have similar features and functions available.

Searching for Articles: Advanced Search

Searching for Articles: Advanced Search

Advanced Searches are generally used when a researcher wants to create a more complicated search with AND and OR operators or specific search limits / refinements. 

In any database, look for an Advanced Search link near the basic search box to access the Advanced Search page.


Advanced Search pages consist of multiple search boxes (with optional field search drop-down menus for each box), and several optional search limits or search refinements you can use.  The most popular search limits typically include:

  • Full Text
  • Publication Date
  • Peer-Reviewed Journals

All available search limits and search refinements on the Advanced Search page are optional.  They are designed to give you the maximum amount of control over your search, but do not have to be used.  For more on Search Limits, please see the Focusing Search Results tab of this guide.

checkmark iconWhen using the Advanced Search - type each keyword or short phrase into its own search box.  Make sure the word AND appears between the search boxes.


Advanced Search in Academic Search Premier:


Advanced Search in Academic OneFile (Gale):


checkmark icon An Advanced Search screen may look different depending on what database you are using.  However, most will have similar features and functions available.

Searching for Articles: Advanced Search Using OR

Searching for Articles: Advanced Search using OR

The multiple search box layout of the Advanced Search allows you to easily incorporate alternate or related keywords into your search using OR.  When you use OR between related keywords, the database will find EITHER of the words in the results.

checkmark iconThe key to using both ANDs and ORs in an Advanced Search is keep the ANDs defaulted between the multiple search boxes, then type OR between your alternate words within each search box.

The benefit of using OR with related keywords in a search is that you can search all of the related keywords at once instead of needing to run multiple searches with different keyword combinations. 

Searching for Articles: Advanced Search using Field drop-down menus

Searching for Articles: Advanced Search using Field drop-down menus

When using the Advanced Search, you have the option to select where (in which field) you want the database to look for your keywords - Within the title?  The abstract?  The subject headings?  

If you don't select anything in the field drop-down menus, the database will look for your keywords on the article record page (includes the article title, journal title, abstract, and subject headings) or within the full text of the article depending on which database you are using.


checkmark iconUsing the field search menus works best when you are getting too many results in your initial searches. Start by selecting one set of keywords to search within a field (such as the Title, Abstract, or Subject).  


Notice in the results, the article titles contain one or more of the keywords you specified must appear in the title.