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Information Literacy Session 1: Search Tools and Strategies: Database Navigation

ENG 102 Embedded Librarian Session: Keywords, Boolean Operators, & Search Strategies

How to Navigate Databases

A database might look like a search engine, but the sources you will find within the database are typically from paid-for sources, such as newspapers, journals, and magazines. Databases tend to specialize in specific areas, such as business, humanities, law, etc.... Make sure to read the descriptions of the databases to see which ones are most appropriate for your research needs. Read this Research Guide if you want to learn more about databases and check out the list of databases accessible to HWC students.

These tutorial videos will show you how to navigate some of our more popular databases. Please watch them to learn how to perform effective and efficient searches. Note that while individual databases may look different, they all have the same basic and advanced functions.

Use these pro-tips when searching in databases for more efficient and effective results:

  • Select "Advanced Search" and use at least 2 keywords, linked by Boolean operators. 
  • Select "Full text" in filters, even before looking at any of the articles listed in your results. This will weed out the articles we don't have access to. Don't worry - you'll still have more than enough to work with!
  • Add subject terms or author-supplied keywords from useful articles in your search results to your list of brainstormed keywords for future searches. 
  • Read an article's abstract to decide if it fits your parameters before digging deeper into the article.
  • If you have an option to read a PDF or HTML full-text article, always select the PDF. It will contain all images, charts, etc., as well as page numbers (all-important for citations!), that the HTML version may not have. Also the layout will be easier on your eyes.
  • Every database will have a toolbox with icons for Print, Save, Share, Cite, etc. It may be in a different location in each database, but it will be there!
  • Mine bibliographies from useful articles for additional related resources.

Academic Search Complete Tutorial

Gale Tutorial