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Database Help

Electronic databases are great tools for helping you find full-text magazine, newspaper, and journal articles from a distance. Here are some tips to help you with your searching.

Basic Searching

When you sign in to use the databases, you will arrive at a screen that lists the databases we subscribe to by subject. Select a featured database for your subject, or select "Show All" for additional databases that might give a broader perspective on your topic. Once you choose a database, take a moment to see what kinds of searching it offers. Often the first screen will allow you to do a basic search. Look for opportunities to make your search more precise by doing an advanced search, or limiting your search results to a time period or publication. Many of our databases offer full-text articles. There is often a box that you can check before you submit your search that will limit your results to full-text articles.

Too Many Results?

Hundreds of results can be frustrating and confusing.  Try to narrow your search by using additional search terms.  To do this in most databases, you use the word 'AND' between your search terms.  If you were looking for an article about the drinking habits of college freshmen you might type 'college AND freshman AND alcohol' into the search box. The resulting articles will contain all three of your terms. Learn more about Boolean searching.

Too Few Results?

One of the biggest reasons for no results is incorrect spelling.  Try to spell your search term another way and search again.  Another reason for limited results can be that the search term you are using is too specific.  Try a broader term to get more results. For example, if you are searching using the word 'freshmen' and don't get any results, try searching for 'college students'. Freshmen may still be mentioned in the article, but the author may have used the term 'first-year students'. You can also try using the word 'OR' to add related search terms; e.g. 'students OR teenagers OR young adults'.  This will give you results where one or more of your search terms appear.

Need more help?

Contact a librarian! We are available to help with any questions you may have about information and how to find it. Call (413) 565-1376 when the library is open or fill out this form.

HATCH LIBRARY 539 Longmeadow St, Longmeadow, MA 01106  •  (413) 565-1376  • 
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Last updated: 10/15/13

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