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How To - Do Basic Searches in WorldCat Discovery

Research Tips & Tricks

Write out your research question:


  1. Using keywords from your research question, Start searching for information in reference resources such as  online reference databases such as EBSCOHost Databases, JSTORLiterary Reference Center Plus (This provides an overview of your topic.)

  2. To select the best databases to search, begin by searching all databases simultaneously using WorldCat Discovery, the first searchbox on the library homepage. Need More Help?  Check the How To - Use WorldCat Discovery LibGuide or click the Take a Deeper Dive tab.

  3. Unless you are already well acquainted with your area of research, when starting out, use non-technical words and search the full-text field. Then scan the results for one good article. This can take several minutes, so be patient and stick with it. (The full-text field is more apt to use non-technical language.)

  4. If there are no good hits, use a different word or set of words and search only the full-text field until you find something.  

  5. Using a relevant article you found in the previous steps, locate the technical/scholarly words used in the article’s abstract. Do another search of the abstract field using those words. (Abstracts always use technical terminology/scholarly terms.)

  6. If multiple forms of a word could be searched, use the truncation symbol *. (cell* searches for cell, cells, cellular, cellulite, cello, etc;  prosthe* searches prosthetic, prosthetics, prosthesis, prostheses)

  7. If there are too many good hits, add terms to multiple fields to narrow the search. You may also exclude words or search for and/or combinations of words. This is called Boolean logic (AND, OR, NOT), and it is used extensively in computer programming and in library research. (It is good to narrow your search until you are down to one to two dozen results.)

  8. If searching a phrase, “use quotation” marks. (“John Marshall”)

  9. Google Scholar is another great place to find articles and to see if those articles have been cited by more recent articles. Find an article and select cited by and citation.

  10. Remember, the librarians are here to help you find resources. Find your friendly Librarians at the Research desk (scroll down to find hours below calendar) or here to set up a research consultation.