Get more out of your search

Changes to Library services during the COVID-19 service disruption.

Use full search capabilities of whatever database you are searching

  • Check out advanced search screens to see all the available ways to limit your searches
  • Know what you are searching and tailor your strategy to the content: different strategies when searching full-text databases vs. those with basic bibliographical information
  • Make full use of all boolean capabilities (AND, OR, NEAR, NOT...), field searching, phrase searching, truncation...
    For more information on searching in Omni see our Omni Help page. When searching other databases, look for links to help or search tips to find out what you can do there.

Be more precise in your choice of search terms

While being more precise will get you fewer results in any search, they will often be more on topic, saving you the time of having to look through lists of not-quite-what-you-were-looking-for articles.

  • Pay attention to subject terms assigned to journal articles
  • If a database comes with a thesaurus explore it for suggested terminology and then use these terms in your search
    Example: the link to the LLBA thesaurus in Proquest
     screenshot of advanced search screen showing link to thesaurus

    Example: Thesaurus entry for "Language Acquisition. Note the broader, narrower, and related terms.
    thesaurus entry showing broader terms, narrower terms, and related terms

Follow citation trails

There are many ways to find relevant information beyond just searching in our databases. Don't discount using an interesting book or article as the jumping off point for other sources

Trace backward: Use the list of references that come with books and journal articles (may sound obvious, but often overlooked!)

Trace forward: we have a number of resources that will help you find out who may have cited a particular book or journal article more recently. The following databases all allow you to see who has cited something (See our Cited Reference Searching for more information):

Google Scholar

Highlights the cited by link in google scholar

Web of Science (covers Science, Social Sciences, and Arts & Humanities)

Note that you can register for a Web of Science account, which will then allow you to set up a citation alert to get notified whenever someone else cites this article:

Shows position of Times Cited information


On the search results page and on the page for individual articles you will see a link to the articles that have cited the one you are interested in. If you register for a Scopus account, you can then set up a citation alert (bell icon in upper right of screen) to be notified if someone new cites the article. 

shows location of number of times a source has been cited in Scopus

Content last reviewed: July 16, 2020