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Common Database Search Features
- SEARCH TERMS
Search by a single word or word phrase (in quotes)
- BOOLEAN OPERATORS
Use AND to connect different concepts together (to narrow down results when one search term is too broad)
Example: "mobile technology" AND classroom
- Use OR to connect synonyms together (to increase number of items you have to choose from in search results list)
Example: "mobile technology" OR "handheld devices" OR "mobile devices" OR tablet OR smartphone
- Use NOT to eliminate terms you don't want in search results
Example: "mobile technology" NOT iPads
Use the asterisk "*" to do stem searching. Instead of typing all variations of a word into your search boxes, type it once using the asterisk.
- Example: comput* will pick up terms such as compute, computes, computer, computers, computing, computation, computational
- PROXIMITY SEARCHES -- For databases on the EBSCO Platform
Search for two or more words that occur within a specified number of words of each other. Proximity operators are composed of a letter (N or W) and a number (to specify the number of words).
- Near Operator (N) - N5 finds the words if they are within 5 words of one another regardless of the order in which they appear.
Example: tax N5 reform finds results that would match tax reform as well as reform of income tax.
- Within Operator (W) - W8 finds the words if they are within 8 words of one another and in the order in which you entered them.
Example: tax W8 reform finds results that would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.
- Multiple Terms can be used on either side of the operator.
(baseball or football or basketball) N5 (teams or players)
oil W3 (disaster OR clean-up OR contamination)
Some databases, such as PsycINFO, have a thesaurus which can be used to identify alternative or related words to include in your searches.
- MARK / SELECT RECORDS
After revieweing your search results, choose citations from a set of search results that you want to keep (usually by adding a citation to a folder, as in databases on the EBSCO platform; or by checking off a box, as in databases on the ProQuest platform).
- PRINT / DOWNLOAD / E-MAIL / EXPORT (to Citation Management Tools)
These are your "output" options after selecting citations from your search results
- CITATION STYLES
After selecting an output option, most databases allow you to create a bibliography or reference list in one of the major citation styles before printing, downloading, or e-mailing (APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, Harvard, etc). You should always check for accuracy as there are sometimes mistakes in the way citations are formatted using this feature.
- SEARCH ACROSS SEVERAL DATABASES AT ONCE
This is possible using databases that share the same platform (or search interface) such as EBSCO. One drawback is that special search features or limiters (filters) that are unique to specific databases will be applied to search results from that database only -- the remaining search results will not be affected. For example, PsycINFO is the only database that has the Methodology Field. When searching PsycINFO in combination with other EBSCO databases, the Methodology filter will not be applied to search results pulled from other databases because it is not common to all of the databases selected.