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Research in the Library: Successful searches

Video tutorials

Check out these video tutorials on using databases!

EBSCO, one of our main multidisciplinary databases, has several short videos:

Proquest, our other major interdisciplinary database, also has video tutorials:

Choosing databases

An important factor in a successful search is to choose the proper databases.

If you are unsure of which database to use, consult the "Databases by Subject" list or speak to a Librarian.  The alphabetized list of databases feature descriptions of the databases as well.

Click on the Advanced Search drop-down tab from this page to learn how to search all (or some) of the databases with just one search.

Search strategy

The most critical part of research is formulating the best search term or phrase

  • To find the most relevant results, identify the main subjects of your topic.  For example, if you are looking for information on the effects of global warming on animal populations, your keywords or phrases would be: "global warming" and "animals". 
  • Once you have identified your keywords, come up with synonyms for those terms. "Climate change" and "greenhouse effect" are two synonyms for "global warming."  "Wildlife" and "fauna" are two synonyms for "animals".
  • If your subject is more than one word, put quotes around it so that the words are searched together, as a phrase, rather than individually.  For example; "global warming" instead of global warming.

A search strategy for our topic, using EBSCO, could be : "climate change" animals:

or use the Advanced Search screen to put "climate change" on one line, and animals on another.


Interpreting and refining results

While search parameters can be set before you begin your search, they can also be applied once you get your search results.  Our search results are shown below. 

  1. Scan the title and the subjects listed in the results window to see if your results are relevant
  2. Refine your results.  For example, choose only full-text articles and set your publication date range.
  3. Read, save or email your articles.