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Library Instruction

Database Searching

Searching Databases


Citation and Abstract> <Full Text

Search results will give information about any article, including the title, author(s), title of the periodical in which it was published, date of publication, and a summary.

If that is all the information provided, it is referred to as Citation and Abstract.

If the whole article is there to read, print, save, or email, that is referred to as Full Text.

Most databases allow a search to limit to full text only, some on the initial search page, some only after a search has been completed.

If there is only a citation and abstract, and you want the whole article, contact the library. We may be able to get it in another way.


Scholarly> < Popular

Scholarly articles are also referred to as “peer-reviewed” or “refereed,” and are usually published in scholarly journals.

They are evaluated by other experts in the field before being published.

They are generally more authoritative than popular articles.

It takes more time to publish than popular articles.

Popular articles are published in magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc.

They are not necessarily reviewed by experts before being published.

Generally less authoritative.

Faster to publish.


Search Terms

Most articles have related, subject, and/or indexing terms with the article. These can be used to refine the search.

Boolean Logic

Used to link search terms, may be used as capital letters in single search boxes, or in advanced search screen as separate lines.

AND                       dogs AND cats

OR                          dogs OR cats

NOT                       dogs NOT cats


Other Characters

“quotation marks”           Keep the words together as a phrase

(parentheses)                   Used to nest search terms: (dog AND cat) NOT bird

Asterisk *                            truncation: paint* will return paint, painter, painting

Most databases have search tips, additional ways of refining searches, and help screens