Chapter 3: Advanced Searching

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Execute better strategies for a successful search. (LO2)
  • Examine strategies for maintaining academic integrity. (LO5)

Advanced Searching

The following slides are going to describe the process for successful searching using EBSCO databases. The same strategies will apply for other databases as well. Remember that some specific elements may vary from one vendor to another. The best strategy is to use multiple search boxes for your search, instead of inputting all of your terms in one search bar. Select the arrow in the lower right corner to expand to full screen.


Choosing a Database

Different databases may appear the same because they are produced by the same vendor, when truly, they are quite different. For example, EBSCOhost databases like CINAHL and Business Source Complete look very similar but contain very different content. The good news about this variety from one database to another is that once you become comfortable with one database, if and when you change to another database, the skills you have acquired can be generalized to the new environment. There are three things to consider when choosing a database:

  • Discipline: The discipline is the academic area of study. Databases often have a broad disciplinary focus for example, a single database on education would not breakdown into smaller databases for each age group (e.g. elementary, middle, high school and higher education).
  • Coverage: Coverage means the type of records, years of publication included in the journal articles and the number of journal available. Some databases will have the most current content where others may not; some may no longer be actively publishing.
  • Full-text: Full text means you are able to view the entire article immediately. Sometimes a record me be only a review or abstract, so read carefully.

There’s a couple special features that may also be applicable depending on the database:

  • Controlled vocabulary: This is a research term agreed upon standard terms for different topics, subjects, or issues. Sometimes students and researchers new to a topic might not know all of the different ways to describe a topic.
  • Citation Linking: This connects a database article to other scholarly works that cite it. This allows the database user to find scholarly works that may be similar to the original source.

References for Remixed Content:

PALNI (2022, June 3). Advanced searching. PALNI Information Literacy Modules.


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Research and Information Literacy with Library Resources by Andrea Bearman and Jill Noyes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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