This is the "Getting Started" page of the "Search Techniques for Online Research" guide.
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Search Techniques for Online Research   Tags: databases, library resources, research  

Helpful hints and tools to produce the most relevant and useful search results
Last Updated: Jul 25, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Getting Started Print Page

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Conducting Database Research

Most databases have a host of useful tools and resources built into them - if you know how to use them! This guide is designed to help you get started with your search and introduce you to some very basic (but very helpful) research techniques. Remember, patience is important - sometimes it can take several attempts using different tools to get to the results you need.


Getting Started

Where should I begin my search?

The "Search Our Databases" page on the Donald B. Watt Library page is a great place to start. It will search multiple databases at once and provide the results in EBSCO. However, if you have a subject specific topic (e.g. science or history), you can browse the subject specific databases on the Databases A-Z page.

What kind of search should I use?
If you are just beginning your research and have not yet formulated your topic, a keyword search in the basic search bar (e.g. "sustainable development") should be enough to get you started. If you have a specific topic in mind, click the Advanced Search option and use the tools within this LibGuide.

Can I use Google?

If you are looking for scholarly articles, we recommend that you begin with our databases. However, you can use GoogleScholar to locate scholarly articles on the Internet. There is a GoogleScholar search box within this LibGuide. You should always use GoogleScholar, as opposed to regular Google, to increase the likelihood of academic search results.

Can I just use an abstract or do I need the full text?

An abstract is a brief summary of an article, usualy less than 200 words. Reading the abstract gives you an idea of whether the article will be helpful to you. It is not meant to replace the reading of the article in its entirety. The full text, usually available in a PDF document, is the entirety of the article, and you should always read the full article before using and citing it as a source.

If an article in a database is available to you in full text, you will see a link to the full text document. If you cannot find the full text of a document, you can often request it through Interlibrary Loan.

Use the LibAnswers box to the right to ask any additional questions that may arise during your research. Most likely, the question has been asked and you will find the answer there. If not, chat with us using the Ask Us tab on the righthand side of your browser or contact the library at,  and we would be happy to help!

Library Support

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April Sommerville
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