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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

English 201 Library Research

Search Hints

Basic Search Tips for Any Library Database

  • Exact phrases "in quotes" -- “higher education”
  • Use or for synonyms if you want either term to be present -- athletics or sports
  • Use and if you want all of the terms to be present -- "higher education" and "student athletes"
  • Use an * on the root form of a word to find any version of the root word with different endings -- universit* to find university or universities
  • Note all your limiters (on left side of screen)
    • Date, type of source, geography, etc.
  • Note subjects/descriptors of relevant records for ways to narrow results, or alternate wording

Search Strategy for EBSCOhost Databases

Searching an EBSCOhost Database

The screenshots for this tutorial are for SocINDEX with Full Text, but you can use the same strategy for any EBSCOhost database. Let's say I am interested in gender portrayals in sports advertising. I brainstormed keywords for gender, sports, advertising, and portrayals.

Type in your search terms.

  • Put one concept per box, with an or in between synonyms.
  • Type in one term or a “simple phrase”. Do not type in a string of words or an entire sentence.
  • For different suffixes of the same root word, use *. sex* for sex, sexual, sexuality, etc.

screenshot of search strategy in SocINDEX with Full Text

Narrowing Results

I have 61 results -- that's not too bad, but we can narrow further. The database wants to help us narrow down. Note the various limiters on the left side:

  • Date -- I can limit to the last 5 years, 10 years, or since 2000, for instance.
  • Source Type -- you'll mainly need Academic Journals, but may want to skim the Magazines or Newspapers if you are still learning about your issue and want to look at some articles for background information, understanding terminology, etc.
  • Subject: Major Heading or just Subject -- this is the most useful limiter to hone in on articles that are about X. Choose one Subject at a time.

Reviewing Your Results

Once you have limited your results to something reasonable (15-50 is good), skim the title of the article. Sound intriguing? Then click on the title to read the entire description, especially the abstract (summary of the article). Is the article still intriguing? Then save it by emailing it to yourself (on the right side of the full record).

With the articles that appear relevant, also note the subject headings given. If the terminology is different from your search terms, or the subject headings you limited to, then you can find other possibly relevant articles by using newly discovered synonyms. (For instance, I noted the term genderism in my results, a word I hadn't considered initially.)

Finding the Full Text

When you are searching in one of the library databases and the article in question isn't available full text right there, look for this icon Check for Full Text iconor a hyperlink that says EWU - Check for Full Text.

Step 1: If the article is available online, it will say Fulltext available at the top. (It looks like a hyperlink, but it is a link to take you to the page you're already on.) Under View It, you will see links to the databases that have the article. In the example above the article is available in Sage Premier 2014.

Step 2: If the article is not available full text, it will say Check availability. To see if we have it in print or microfilm, scroll down and click Find in a Library. If we do have at least one issue of the source, the page will look like the image below. Note:

  • the years we have -- for the example below we have 1974 through 2006
  • the location -- EWU-Cheney Main Level Periodical
  • the call number of the source -- HT111 .J68

Step 3: If the article is not available full text, and we do not have it in print/microfilm, click the link Request this article using Interlibrary Loan (in the middle under Can't find it? -- see image above). You will need to log in using your NetID/SSO. Verify that the fields were filled out correctly and click the red Submit Request button. Articles usually take around 5 days. You will be notified via your EWU email that the article is available for you to download. (Directions are in the email.)