Major Research Project

Course #: RE698

Searching Databases

Well developed research questions can only be developed with a comprehensive understanding of prior research and theory. This understanding is informed by research literature. The challenge is to use the appropriate tools and methods to ensure your search for this literature is both methodical and complete. Here are some steps to fine-tune your searches.

  1. Formulate specific research questions
    • identify the key elements of your questions
  2. Consider word variations and synonyms
    • widen the scope of your results; think about how others might refer to your ideas
  3. Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT)
    • AND = results will contain all the terms
    • OR = results will contain at least one of the terms
    • NOT = results will exclude the term
    • Parentheses and Boolean operators can be used to set apart search groups
    • NEAR/# = search terms within a specified number of words apart, e.g., nursing NEAR/3 education
  4. Limit or expand terms
    • "quotation marks" = exact
    • truncat* = truncate, truncates, truncated, truncation, etc.
  5. Employ search limiters (available limiters depend on the database)
    • peer reviewed, article type, date
  6. Identify key publications and authors
    • note citations, and cited references, repeated author names
  7. Document and track everything you do in the steps above

Choosing a Library Database

  • Start with Omni to get a lay of the land
    • use Articles, date, language, and online limiters
    • results come from all disciplines, which is both positive and negative
  • Consider searching one of our specialized databases
  • ATLA Religion Database
    • contains bibliographic records of academic articles in the area of religion
  • Sociological Collection
    • includes Sociological Abstracts and Social Work Abstracts
  • Additional tips

Why can't I just use Google Scholar?

Predatory Journals

Deep diving into ebooks

While Omni contains a catalogue record (author, title, etc.) of our eBooks, an Omni search does not search the full text of each book. Instead, you need to visit and search the various sites where our eBooks are stored. Some examples include:

Remember other types of resources

Click on Research Materials at the top of this page to see the other types of sources you might want to use, including videos, theses, and statistics.

    Managing Citations