How to Research: A Tutorial
Common features of databases
Although each database has a different look and contains different periodicals and articles, there are many common features in databases.
- Keyword searching
Most databases default to a keyword search. A general or broad keyword will retrieve many results. Use multiple, specific keywords to narrow your search.
- Boolean searching
Most databases use the Boolean connector "AND" by default if you enter more than one keyword.
If there is more than one search box (as in an Advanced Search), there is usually a drop-down box between them with the Boolean connectors AND, OR, and NOT. You can also type the words AND, OR, and NOT between your keywords.
For a Boolean refresher, select Get Started from this tutorial’s menu and click Using AND.
- Field searching
You can search for keywords in specific fields to narrow your search.
Look for a drop-down box next to the search box to select a field.
For example, you can search for your keyword in the Abstract or Title field. If your keyword appears in the article’s abstract or title, it is likely that your keyword is an important topic in the article.
- Date range limits
Date range limits allow you to search for articles that were written at a specific point in time. If you need very recent articles, or articles written at the time an event occurred, specify the date range in your search.
- Citations or Full-text
- Help screens or Guides
Look for links to the Help screen or a Guide if you need more information about how a particular database works.
Also look for a link to Search tips, which can help you perform better searches in the database.