Database Tips

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Here are some general tips and helpful hints for using article databases:

  • Keep your search terms simple and type only one or two words in each text box.
  • You are not required to enter search terms in every empty box. Just use as many as you need to construct your search.
  • A “keyword” search is usually more fruitful than a “subject” search.
  • In Ebsco databases, "Select a Field (Optional) " = keyword search.
  • Using “and” will narrow your search. The database will only retrieve articles that contain both of your search terms.
  • Using “or” will broaden your search. The database will find all articles using either of your search terms as well as those that contain both.
  • Are you frustrated with irrelevant results? Try using “not” to limit your search to more specific results. For example, searching for “dolphins” may result in articles about football. Try searching for “dolphins” NOT “miami.”
  • If you’re in a hurry, look for “full-text only” options – usually a check-box or radio button.
  • Can’t print right now? Email articles to yourself and print them later.
  • Most programs allow you to save interesting items while you’re browsing and view them later. Look for “Add to folder” (Ebsco), “Mark” (FirstSearch, InfoTrac, and Gale), or “Tag” (LexisNexis) check boxes. Check the items that interest you. When you’re ready, open the folder or mark list to view, print, email, or download the articles you’ve saved.
  • If you need research articles (describing research methods, data, results, etc.), use “research” as one of your search terms. Limit this type of search to full-text.
  • Have you been told to find “scholarly” articles? Look for an option that will limit your results to “peer-reviewed,” “refereed,” or “scholarly” journals.
  • PDF or HTML? Sometimes your article will be available in both formats. Which one should you choose?
    • HTML is plain text. Sometimes photos, charts, footnotes, sidebars, etc., are not included in the HTML view. However, HTML is easy to print and saves paper, because headlines and other formatting are not included.
    • PDF displays the article exactly as it appeared in print. Photos and other graphics appear in context. Occasionally, irrelevant articles may appear on the same page, but sidebars, graphs and charts, footnotes, and other supplemental materials are included in full color. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

We are here to help you!

For more information, questions, or comments regarding our Online Databases, or for help with login problems, please contact:

Research Librarians
  Distance Learning Librarian
Scott Jeffries
  Debbi Richard
Linda Stephenson

To ensure prompt attention to email,

please include "DBU" in the subject line of your message.


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