The Research Process
Finding Books & Articles
This section of the guide will cover the next two steps in the research process:
4. Use the Catalog to Find Books
5. Use Article Databases to Find Articles
Now you can search our catalog through our homepage! If you want to search only books, select the book tab above the search box. This will limit your search to books. If you are looking specifically for print books, you can then limit your results to just print books using t the filters on the left-hand side of your results page.
Now you can search our catalog through our homepage! If you want to search only books, select the book tab above the search box. This will limit your search to books. If you are looking specifically for e-books, you can then limit your results to just print books using t the filters on the left-hand side of your results page. Keep in mind that this search option does not search all of our e-book collections. To see what is being searched from the homepage, see our “What am I Searching?” page.
For e-books, you may also want to consult our e-book collections page. This will show you all e-book collections available, which you can then search individually for your topic.
Now you can now do some article searching through our homepage! If you want to search only articles, select the articles tab above the search box. This will limit your search to articles and book chapters. You may want to use some of the filter options on the left-hand side of your results screen, such as limiting to only articles. You also may want to limit to just peer-reviewed articles.
As with books, the homepage search does not search all of our article databases. To see which databases are searched, see our “What am I Searching?” page. To access our other databases, you can visit our A-Z database list. To find a specific journal, you can also search for journals.
If you aren’t sure which databases to search, consider limiting the database list by subject with the first drop down menu. You may also want to consult one of our research guides.
Tips & Tricks
What is the difference between a keyword search and a subject search?
A subject (or subject term or subject heading) is a term selected by librarians as a pre-determined description of the item. In other words, a librarian has looked at the book or article and assigned specific subjects that represent the main topics in that book or article. To do a subject search, you’ll need to know what the assigned subject(s) related to your topic are.
A keyword is what we call a “natural language” search. When you use a keyword search it will search the author, title, subjects and other descriptors of the article. In some cases a keyword may also search words within the article itself. You are doing a keyword search anytime you use Google. Keyword searches generally return more results, but those results may not be as relevant as the results of a subject search.
An easy way to find subjects relevant to your topic is to look at the record of a relevant book or article. In this case, a keyword search for “wind turbines” found this book titled “Offshore Wind Turbines: Reliability, Availability and Maintenance,” which is very relevant to my topic. When I look at the record for this book, I can see the subjects that have been assigned to it. In this case, I can see that not only is “wind turbines” a correct subject, but that “wind power” is also a subject related to my topic that I may want to search.
This can be particularly useful if you are researching on a topic for the first time and you are not familiar with the professional terminology used to refer to your topic, or you aren’t sure whether you should search the scientific term or the lay term (or both). For example, if I am researching Great White Sharks, should I search “Great White Shark” or the scientific name Carcharodon carcharias? Try a search for both and see how your results differ.
You can choose whether to do a keyword or a subject search by using the drop down menu under “search index” in the advanced search screen.
You can do a more sophisticated, complicated search by choosing the Advanced Search option on the library’s homepage.
Boolean operators are words that connect two concepts together, such as AND, OR, or NOT. Using these terms can help you string multiple search terms together into a more complex search.
Using AND means that the search will return results where two words are both found. So a search for “wind AND turbines” will return results that contain both wind and turbines. This helps narrow your search and should retrieve fewer but more relevant results.
Using OR means a search will return results that contain either of two words. So a search for “wind OR turbines” will return results that contain either wind or turbines. This helps expand your search to return more results, but those results may be less relevant.
Using NOT means a search will not return results containing that word or phrase. So a search for “wind NOT turbines” will return results that contain wind, but not any results that contain turbines. For example, this is helpful if you are trying to do a search on a topic like wind patterns and you are getting a lot of results on wind turbines, but you don’t want information on wind turbines.
In the example above, you can see we have tied the words wind, gust and air together with an OR, to signify we want results with any of those words. Then, we have tied those words together with an AND to pattern or current. So potential results might contain wind pattern, air current, gust pattern, etc. Then, we’ve used a NOT to exclude turbines to remove any information on wind turbines.
Truncation & Wildcards
Use truncation and wildcards to help make your search more comprehensive. In most databases, an asterisk (*) is used for truncation and either a ? or ! is used as a wildcard.
Truncation refers to a search with multiple endings. For example, searching child* will return results for child, children, childhood, etc.
Wildcards can be used where there are multiple spellings for a word. For example, if you are researching something related to the word gray, you may want to find both gray and grey. To do this, use your wildcard to replace the e/a: gr?y.
If you are searching a phrase, such as a title of a book, use quotation marks to ask the database to search for those words as a phrase instead of individually. For example, to find Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, search “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Or, if you want to see which Harry Potter books we have, search “Harry Potter.”
Make sure you consider possible synonyms to your terms and topics. Different fields may use different terminology, and different authors may use various terms within the field. The more synonyms you consider, the more results you can find. This is where your OR Boolean operator will come in handy.
If you find a few really good sources, look to see what books or articles they cite. Their citations can give you a ready-made list of sources to consult!
Ask for Help!
Don’t forget to ask for help! We have information on how to ask for help on our Contact Us page. Consider meeting with a librarian one-on-one. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-268-2292.