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Library Basics - Online Edition

Need to find resources for your paper or project? Here's a quick guide that will introduce you to some of the basic resources that you can use for your paper or project. This Online Edition focuses on just the resources that the library provides online.

Using Subject Terms

Another way of helping you find terms for your search strategy is to use the subject terms that are by databases. Using existing subject terms can help get you more precise results.

  • Using Subject Terms From a Search: First, perform a search using whatever method works for you. Then find an article that's close to what you want. Click it's title. Here's what you might see after you search for "midsummer night's dream puck" and then click on a title:Midsummer Night's Dream
  • We're trying to find articles on "Puck," so click on that subject:Puck subject heading
  • In Academic Search, we got 6 results, but they are all for Puck, the character:Puck results
  • Note that the search is DE "PUCK (Legendary character)".  The DE instructs the database to search for the subject term that's in the parentheses. 
  • If you did just a search for "Puck", it would be for that word. So, in addition to Puck the character, you'd get puck from hockey.  In fact, you'd get more results than you want. Such a search gives us 2,564 results. Wading through 2,500 worthless results can be a frustrating experience. Using subject terms can make your life easier:Puck keyword results
  • Using Subject Terms from the Thesaurus: Not only can you find subject terms from a search, but you can also find subject terms from the database's thesaurus. The advantage to this is that you can browse through terms to see what's been used and what appear next to each other alphabetically. 
  • If you are using EBSCO, first click on the "Subject Terms" in the top left area of the screen:Subject term location
  • Then enter your search and click "Browse." Afterwards, you'll see your results:Colleges browse results
  • If you find a term you want to look at, click the box next to the term, then click "Add," and finally click the "Search" button:Performing search from subject list
  • You may then combine other search terms together using the following terms: AND, OR, and NOT. For example, (DE "UNIVERSITIES & colleges") AND Libraries  will perform a search for college libraries:Colleges and libraries results