2. If you know the name of the database you want to search, the alphabetical list of titles will take you to it quickly. If you are not sure which database is best for your topic, you can browse the list of subject categories for one that is appropriate or begin with a multidisciplinary one, like Academic Search Premier or Academic OneFile.
3. Once you have selected a database, enter the keywords and phrases that describe your topic into the appropriate search box.
Boolean searches increase your ability to broaden or narrow your search.
Boolean searches allow you to combine your keywords with Boolean operators. The operator you use will determine what results the database returns. The three Boolean operators are the words AND, OR, and NOT.
AND tells the database to search for documents that contain your first and second keywords. This limits results to documents that contain both keywords. For example, if you wanted to find documents pertaining to AIDS in Africa, you might phrase your search like this:
AIDS AND Africa
The database will return documents about both AIDS and Africa.
OR tells the database to search for documents that contain either one of your keywords. This broadens the search to provide results that mention one or both of the terms. For example, if you wanted to find documents that mentioned either England or Britain, you might phrase your search like this:
England OR Britain
The database will retrieve results that contain England or Britain.
NOT excludes a term from your search. It tells the database that you want to see every item that has to do with your first keyword and not any items that mention your second keyword. For example, if you wanted to search for articles about stars in the solar system but not celebrities, you might phrase your search like this:
Stars NOT Celebrities
The database would return articles about stars that do not mention celebrities.
AND and NOT will always narrow your search. OR will always broaden your search.
You can use more than one operator in your search.
For example, a search for housing market AND economy AND North Carolina would return results that mention all three terms.
Housing Market AND Economy AND North Carolina
A search for Drama OR Theater OR Performance would return results that mention one or more of these terms.
Drama OR Theater OR Performance
You can also combine different operators. For example, consider you wanted articles pertaining to how Cuba and John F. Kennedy responded to the Cuban Missile Crisis. You might construct your search like this:
Cuba OR Kennedy AND Missile Crisis
However, the database may return documents that pertain to Cuba as well as documents that mention both Kennedy and the Missile Crisis. In this case, you may also want to use a technique called nesting, which uses parentheses to guide the database in its search.
You might rephrase your search to look like this:
(Cuba OR Kennedy) AND Missile Crisis
The database would return documents that were about Cuba and the Missile Crisis as well as documents about Kennedy and the Missile Crisis.
4. Many of the databases available through the library provide direct access to the full text of the article. If the article is available, the database will indicate it with a link to either an html (web) version or a pdf (graphic) version.
5. Continue for directions on finding your article if it is not full-text in the database.