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Tips for Searching Online Databases

Correct Spelling:

Make sure you have the correct spelling for search terms. Some databases may suggest alternate spellings, but others will not.

Search Phrases:

Do not type complete sentences or questions as your search. Doing so will often result in few or no search results. Choose a keyword or phrase that describes what you are looking for. Connect keywords and phrases with "AND" or use the advanced search option.

Example 1:
Are there any critical articles of Mark Twain's book titled Huckleberry Finn?

Example 2:
I need to find an article having to do with psychology.

Since psychology is such a broad topic, you will want to narrow your search. You may need to consult your psychology textbook in order to pinpoint a specific topic to focus on:


Quotation Marks:

Put quotation marks around distinctive phrases. 

Example: "usa patriot act"


Use truncation symbols to expand your search. Truncation allows a database to search for multiple forms of a root word. The symbol for truncation may vary among databases.

Example: creat* will find create, created, creative, creativity, etc.

Database Name Truncation Symbol Used
PCC Library Catalog $
Academic Search Complete *
Literature Criticism Online


If you are not finding the information you need: