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Finding Articles Efficiently: Searching Databases - Tips & Tricks

Is the introductory workshop into the Ruby certificate and is one of the required workshops to complete the certificate.

Database Search Tips


Keyword and Subject Heading Searching A keyword search is one that looks for your search terms anywhere in the citation, abstract, or full text. A subject-heading search looks for your word only in the list of subject headings that describe the major focus of the article.
Truncation * Use an asterisk to substitute for letters at the end of a word (e.g. crit* finds critic, criticism, critique etc.).
" "  Use quotes to search multiple words as a phrase (e.g. "new age" finds these terms in exact order)
Field Limiting Many advanced search screens will provide limiters where specific terms can be located under a specific field in a database record. For example, the term "literature" can be found in the title of a journal article by properly manipulating the database. Also, date and language limits can be set if only recent articles in Spanish are the desired result.
Boolean Operators (AND,
These are used to connect multiple concepts or search terms in one search statement. An example would be: literature and (analysis or criticism)
Citations, Abstracts, and
Some databases give just the basic information about the article (a citation) while others give a summary (abstract) as well as a citation. Still others give the full text article as it appeared in the original journal.


Limit to peer-reviewed (or at least scholarly) articles to find those most desirable for work at the college level. (Peer-review explained: Some journals require articles to be reviewed by other professionals in a particular field before they can be published.  These are considered the cream of the crop in scholarly articles.)

Database Search Example