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ELC Library Resources: Search Tips

Research Strategy Worksheet

This worksheet will help you brainstorm and perform research on your topic of interest.

Search Strategies

Check out our LibGuide on Library Research Methods. It covers:

1.     Basics - Tips for formulating a good search strategy and using Boolean logic.

2.     Intermediate - Learn how to use quotation marks, the asterisk, and proximity operators to make your searches faster and more effective.

3.     Advanced - Delve into the complex world of citation searching and journal rankings to uncover hidden connections.

4.     Journal Rankings - Find out which journals are the top journals in your field.

More Tutorials

Need a reminder on the difference between keywords and subject headings? Check out this short explainer video:

Prefer to see the thesaurus tutorial in video format? Check out the video below--click on the 'YouTube' link to watch it full screen.

Cross-Searching Proquest

The tabs in this box will show you how to search multiple ProQuest databases at once. This is a great way to handpick resources from multiple disciplines and search them all in one go.  Using this technique will help you find more results from a variety of subject areas.

Step 1: Connect to any ProQuest Database

  1. Follow the 'Databases' link on the library website
  2. Scroll through the alphabetical list and select any ProQuest database:

Now that you're connected to ProQuest you will need to follow a few steps in order to choose which of their databases you wish to search. Just follow these steps:

1. In the top, left corner of the screen click on the link labeled 'Change databases':

2. You will now see a list of all available ProQuest databases and their descriptions. Simply select all of the databases you would like to search, then press the 'Use selected databases' button:

3. After making your selections take a look at the link at the top of the screen labeled 'Databases'. The number you see in parentheses represents the total number of databases you selected:

After making your database selections you can begin searching.  Check out the 'Quick Reference Guides' on the home page of this guide, or the 'search strategies' box on this box for guidance on developing search strategies, tips and techniques. 

Here is a sample search (investigating the relationship between social justice and cultural competence) to help familiarize you with the interface:

It's important to remember that you will likely need to refine and revise your searches to find the best results. ProQuest offers a number of refinement options along the left-hand side of the results page. Be sure to explore these to see how they affect your results:

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Thesaurus and Subject Terms

Using a Thesaurus

Many databases, such as ProQuest, allow users to utilize a 'thesaurus' to find the most accurate subject terms for their topic of interest.

Once you click on 'thesaurus' it will open as a pop-up window.  You can then enter a term to discover its subject term.  The preferred terms in the thesaurus will have a checkbox next to them. If you don't see a checkbox next to your term, click on it to reveal the preferred term.  If you see a blue box next to your term, click on it to reveal notes and a list of related terms.  

The thesaurus will default to combining the terms you choose with the operator 'OR'. This will allow the database to find results that mention any one of the terms included, increasing the number of results you retrieve.