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How to Use the Library Databases

Database Access Off Campus

Off campus? To search the SC4 Library databases you will be prompted to enter your Portal Username and Password. Please contact the library if you are having trouble.

Database Top Tips

1. Use the Boolean operators, explained in the chart below, with your search terms or keywords.

  • While typing a full or partial sentence into Google or another Internet search engine will usually bring back closely matched results, most databases will not return good results.
  • For example, if you were searching for "the health effects of social media on children and teenagers," you will get better results by searching "health effects" AND "social media" AND (children OR teenagers OR adolescents) than by entering the entire phrase.

2. Many databases are searchable by subject.

  • Look for links such as "Apply equivalent subjects" or "Look up subjects" or "Subject guide search." Some databases also have online thesauri to browse subjects that correlate with your topic.

3. Don't limit yourself to one database- try another, or try a database with wider subject coverage.

  • The same search in one database may yield very different results than another database.

4. Use general or interdisciplinary databases, as these often have the widest range of subject coverage.

5. Don't give up!

  • Chat with a librarian if you're having any trouble. We can assist you in finding the information you're looking for, help you save time, show you the best search strategies, and recommend other sources.

Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators

One of the easiest ways to refine your search is to use the Boolean operators, and everyone has used them, even if accidently. 

The chart below explains differences between the Boolean operators.

 

Boolean operator

Function

Example

AND

· Narrows search result

· Finds articles/websites with both terms in them. Terms may not necessarily be next to each other

Children AND Divorce (retrieves articles with both terms)

OR

· Broadens search result

· Use to combine similar terms. One or the other search term must appear in the article/website

· Put parentheses around your ORs

"Moral Development" OR "Moral Reasoning" (retrieves articles with either term)

NOT

· Narrows search result

· Use to eliminate terms from search

"Play Therapy" NOT Sandplay (eliminates articles that have the word Sandplay in them)

 

Phrase or Full Name searching

Quotation marks keeps the words of a phrase together.

"Port Huron"

"Grumpy Cat"

"Jerry Lewis"

 

Truncation

Most databases use the asterisk * to truncate words. For example, child* will search for the words child or child’s or children or childlike. 

 

Selecting Scholarly/Academic/Peer-Reviewed Articles

Look for the following:

  • An Abstract is at the beginning of the article. This is a summary of the researchers/authors' study methods, arguments, conclusions, and more.
  • Author(s) - Scholarly articles often have two or more authors. The authors' credentials, affiliations, and other information is usually listed on first page of the article, under the title or sometimes on the last page of article.
  • Headings/Sections in the article include:
    • Introduction -- Usually one paragraph, sometimes more, describing the subject of the article
    • Methodology --  Provides information about how data was collected, what data was gathered, and who participated in the study
    • Discussion/Results -- Offers information about the results of the study and what was learned
    • Conclusion -- Summarizes the findings of the research/study and any recommendations or limitations of the study
    • References/Bibliography -- Detailed list of references used in the research is generally found at the end of the article
  • Technical/Specialized Language - Scholarly articles are generally written in formal, technical language.
  • Charts, Graphs, Diagrams, etc. - Scholarly articles are often communicating results of studies and research and so will include charts, graphs, diagrams, and other visual aids.
  • Length - Scholarly articles are usually relatively long; often they are four pages or more.