This is the "Database Searching Tips" page of the "Basic Database Searching Tips" guide.
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Basic Database Searching Tips  

Following these techniques can help you do more accurate searches in the library databases.
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
Database Searching Tips Print Page

Database Searching-General Suggestions

Database Searching-General Suggestions


 *You should try to use as few keywords in a search as possible. Use the word “and” to link them together, for example:  Teens AND Smoking

 *Mark “Scholarly journals” or “Scholarly (peer reviewed) journals.” You may mark for “full text,” as well.

 *You may limit by dates (for instance, “Published date from…” and put in 2006 or however many years back you’d like to go).

 *Given the option of full text or PDF, your best bet is usually the PDF.

 *It’s useful to check the references at the end of a very good article, as you may find something else useful!


 If an article is not full text in the database you’re using, click the Find It? button. If it’s available in another database, it will take you to that article. If not, you may then check to see if we subscribe to it (click “by ISSN”) or order it via Interlibrary Loan (click “Online request form”).


Please allow 1.5 to two weeks for an interlibrary loan to arrive.


 To find if we have online access to the full text of a particular journal through one of our online databases:


*Go to the library home page (

*Click on “Electronic Journal Finder

*Enter the title of the journal you are interested in finding

*If your journal comes up, look at the dates covered and follow that link


Search Operators

Basic Search Operators

See video in next box

 Boolean Operators

 Boolean searching is a method of combining concepts in a computerized library database search.  The main Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT.  They are used in the following ways in a search:

 * Alcoholism AND Treatment.  This search requires that both words appear in the database records retrieved.  This strategy will narrow your results.

 * Alcoholism OR Substance abuse.  This search requires that either word appear in the database records retrieved.  This strategy will broaden your results and is most often used to search for synonyms.

 * Alcoholism NOT Adolescent.  This search requires that no record retrieved should contain the word adolescent.  This could be a problem because you might exclude a record of value to you.  Use this with caution.



 Nesting is putting parentheses around words or concepts that you want to search first.  For example:

Alcoholism AND (treatment OR therapy)



 Truncation is a way of searching all possible forms of a root word in your search.  It involves placing a symbol (usually * or ?) at the end of a search term.  This will then retrieve records that contain all endings of a particular word. 

 For example, if you entered the term Alcohol* into a library database, you would retrieve records which contained the words Alcohol, Alcoholism, Alcoholic, Alcoholics or any other variant of the word.  This will help you significantly broaden your search.


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