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Search Strategies: The Guide

Finding Articles

  1. Have the article information or citation open in your browser window. citation
  2. Open another tab of the LibraryConnect homepage by clicking here.
  3. On LibraryConnect, click the "Databases A-Z" link on the left side of the page.
  4. Scroll down to the J's and click on "Journal Search."
    journal search
  5. In the search box, enter the journal title from your article citation. If your citation is in APA format, the journal title is in italics.
    enter search
  6. After hitting the "Search" button, you will see links to the databases that your journal is held in.
    database list
    In my example, the article I'm supposed to read was published in 2013. I know this because I looked back at the citation, and found the year within parentheses. Looking at the detailed information here, these two databases have articles from Phycological Research from March 1, 1998 to exactly one year ago from today's date. In this case, my article will be held in both databases. I will be able to access the article. Hooray!
  7. Enter the title of your article in the "Search within Publication" box and hit the magnifying glass icon to perform the search.
    title search
  8. Click on the "Full Text" option to view the article. If that doesn't work, go to step 9.
    full text
  9. If you only see a "Full Text Finder" link, click on it and select a link that starts with "Find this..."
    full text finder
  10. Read!!!

Research Project Help Guides

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How to Construct a Search

When You're Starting Your Search:

1. Choose a topic and identify the main concepts 

Tip! Concepts associated with your topic are often good search terms.

Example: Massage Therapy

  • Associated concepts: Complementary Therapies, Alternative Medicine, Reflexology, Reflexology, Reiki, Acupressure, Therapeutic Touch

2. Discover synonyms and related terms


  • Use an encyclopedia, thesaurus or other reference tools to find other possible search terms. 
  • Try to find the standard terms used in the field.
  • Have a number of possible search terms ready. See the keyword searching page for tips on discovering keywords.

Example: Synonyms for massage (as an action, not a discipline): treat, care for, manipulate, knead. 

3. Choose the right database or search engine


  • For help choosing a database or search engine, consult the LibraryConnect guides or ask your librarian. 
  • Think about what sort of material you would like to find, and use those expectations to shape your research plan.
  • Use the library catalog to find books and e-books.
  • Library databases are tools to find  journal and news articles.
  • Select web pages from academic directories and search engines.

Example: If you're looking for information about something that happened last week, you'll want to look in newspapers and online news sources (like BBC, CNN, or ProQuest Newsstand database). If you're looking for current events in books or e-books, you won't have any luck because recent information hasn't been published in a book yet.

Think of choosing a database like shopping. When you're shopping for shoes, you want to go looking in a shoe store, department store, or mall. If you went to a ice cream store (like Dairy Queen), you probably won't have any luck finding the shoes you want.

4. Search Strategies: Subject Searching

Librarians have assigned subject headings to books and articles to help us find all sources about certain topics. Using subject headings will narrow your search.


  • Subject searching uses "controlled vocabulary."
  • See the Subject Searching page of this guide for more information.

Example: If you're searching "global market," you may see that "globalization" is a subject heading. Clicking on "globalization" will lead you to all the resources that are about that topic. Using subject headings is a way to speed up your research.

5. Search Strategies: Keyword Searching

Keyword searching is the most common way to search. When you are first starting your research, keyword searching is the best way to begin.


  • Check out the other pages of this guide for specifics on keyword searching methods.

6. Evaluate results and broaden or narrow your search


  • Did you find the items you need? If not, examine what you did find and adjust your search strategies. 
  • Try different synonyms for your search terms.
  • Experiment with Boolean operators to broaden or narrow your search.
  • Try another database or resource.

Example: If you're searching for articles about "partially hydrogenated soybean oil" and you're not getting many results, you may want to consider using a related term, like "transfat." Or you could broaden your search in other ways.

Or if you're searching for articles and getting 20,000 results for potato chip companies, you will want to narrow your search to a specific company or brand. Explore the other pages of this guide for ways to refine your search.