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The Research Process

A guide to start you on your research journey!

Narrow the Search

There are two main ways to narrow your search. One way is to use the limiters within the database. The other is to narrow using your keywords.

General Tips:

  • Keyword searches look for the term(s) anywhere in the record. If you are searching for a phrase, put it in quotes to search for the words in that order within the record (ex. "climate change")
  • Keep your searches as simple as possible (Don't type in a full sentence)
  • Try different combinations of keywords.
  • If there are too many results and they are not relevant, add more terms.
  • If there are too few results, change or take away a term.

Narrow the Search

Limiters can be found on the left side of the screen after completing a search. To narrow your results,  you can:

  • Limit to items that are Full Text (the full text is available through the database)


  • Limit to items that are Peer Reviewed (other professionals in the field have vetted this article/resource before it was published.


  • Limit by Publication Date.
    • Drag the blue bars to change the date range, or you can type in the date range you would like to search within. For certain topics, it is okay to use sources that have an older publication date. Such topics would be ones that will not change much, such as a biography or an analysis of a literary work. For topics such as healthcare and science, it is better to use more recently published resources because things in those fields are rapidly changing.


  • Limit by source type. For example, if you are looking for a journal article, choose "Academic Journal." Clicking on "Show More" will bring up the full selection of source types.

As you begin your search, it is best to start broad. You can focus your search by adding in keywords and using Boolean operators.

Boolean Operators

Use AND when you want to find both terms in a resource. ex. "global warming" AND "sea levels" 

Use OR when you want to find either term. ex. "sea levels" OR "ocean levels"

Use NOT when you want to find one term without the mention of another term. ex. "climate change" NOT "fossil fuels"

Conducting a Boolean Search

Notice how an initial search for the term "climate change" retrieves 440,424 results. This is an overwhelming number to look at! 







Narrow the search by adding an additional keyword.






Adding the additional keyword of "sea levels" brought our result list down to 4,991. These results have both "climate change" AND "sea levels" somewhere within the record because of the AND operator.

Conducting a search with the OR operator will increase the number of results.











Searching for "climate change" and "sea levels" or "oceans" raised the number of results up to 24, 241. While this is not as many as in the original search, it is still an overwhelming number to look through. However, it is helpful to note that if you are not finding enough results, using the OR operator can broaden your search.

To narrow the results even further, add an additional keyword.











The search above will retrieve results that have all three terms somewhere in the record (climate change, sea levels, and Australia). Adding keywords makes the search more specific. If the search is not retrieving enough results, take away one of the keywords.