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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guides

Research Ready: Library Database Tips

Visualizing a Library Database

Library databases are some of the most powerful tools you have available for finding information. We have hundreds of databases to choose from, but maybe we should start by trying to visualize what a library database is.

For best viewing, click 'Start Prezi' and then expand the presentation by clicking the diagonal arrows icon in the lower-right corner. Click escape when you are ready to leave full-screen mode.

Search Tips

Here are some basic searching tips to use when searching a library database. Ask a librarian for more help if you are not finding the type of information you need about your topic. 

1. Keywords, Broader terms, Narrower terms

Use a variety of keywords to describe your topic. If you begin your research by using reference materials such as encyclopedias, you will often run across vocabulary to describe your topic that you may not have thought of on your own. Use this worksheet to help you brainstorm: http://bit.ly/research-topic-worksheet  

  • global warming OR climate change
  • alternative fuel OR ethanol OR hydrogen OR carbon dioxide OR emissions
You should remove all "stop words" from your search. Stop words include articles, prepositions, or essentially any word that is not a crucial, meaningful word. Examples: a, an, the, in, on, of, are, be, into, which, about, that, etc.
 
2. Use quotation marks for phrase searching
  • "war on drugs"
  • "interpersonal relationship*"
  • "climate change"
3. Use truncation to get the database to search for a root word plus any possible endings
  • flood*  flood, floods, flooded, flooding
  • econom* → economy, economic, economical
  • psycholog* psychology, psychological, psychologist
4. Use AND, OR, and NOT to combine your search terms
  • (television OR TV) AND (women OR female)
  • "war on drugs" AND Mexic* AND (United States OR America*)
  • dolphins NOT football

Academic Search Premier

Academic Search Elite is a broad, interdisciplinary database that covers a wide range of subjects. It includes a mix of scholarly articles, popular publications, and a little bit of newspaper coverage. It’s an excellent starting point for the kind of research you will need to do in college courses. Academic Search Elite is one of many databases that our library subscribes to from EBSCOhost. If you learn this database well you'll be able to search many other databases with ease.

Academic Search Premier search box

 

Searching

To search, enter keywords in the search boxes at the top of the page.

Academic Search Premier search box filled in

TIP: Use AND/OR to link search terms. (Boolean logic
Use * at the end of root words to search for all various endings of that root word, often expanding the number of results you will get. (Truncation)

There are options to limit results to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals, articles published within a certain date range, etc.

Academic Search Premier limits

 

 

Full-Text

For many articles, you will see a link to full-text (the whole article), either in HTML or PDF format.

html full text  pdf full text

For other articles, the full-text will not be available in this database. Never fear! Use the UILink button to track down practically any article you need!    UILink

The UILink tool searches behind the scenes in many of our library databases to see if we have access to the article. If we do have access, you will see a message that says “Full text available via” and then a link to another database. Click that link and voilà! The article! Easy!

UILink menu

If we don’t have online access to the article, you’ll see a link to our Interlibrary Loan / Document Delivery services. Login to request the article from another library. It will arrive electronically within 24‐48 hours, for free!

 

Here's an example of a scholarly article citation and a sample of the full-text of the scholarly article. Notice the length of the article. If you use information from an article for your research project, be sure to write down the citation information (author, title, journal name, volume, issue, page number) so you can accurately cite your sources. Click on the title of any article for the complete record, including subject terms and an abstract (summary).

academic citation


Here's an example of a citation that comes from a magazine and a sample of the full-text of the magazine article.  

magazine article citation

magazine article full-text

 

Printing, Emailing & Citing

Once you find a useful article, Academic Search Elite lets you to work with it in a bunch of ways (see bar on the right hand side of item page):

  • Print
  • E-mail (when you email an article to yourself, you can choose to format the citation in MLA style)
  • Save (to a USB drive or other device)
  • Cite (yellow paper icon) – a quick rough draft of the citation in various citation styles; be sure to double-check all citations and correct errors before you turn in your paper 
    REMEMBER copy → paste → proofread 

Ebsco Tools