Skip to Main Content

Women's & Gender Studies: Database Search Tips

Tips, techniques & links to help you find answers for your research papers & projects

Finding the TEXT of an article

Some databases, but not most, have direct PDF or HTML links to articles.  For many databases you will need to look for the linker button,

When you click this button it will automatically take you to a screen where you will have three options

  1. Click to go to the article text online
  2. Check MERLIN for paper copies if we don't have it online
  3. Request through MOBIUS if the article is unavailable at MU
  4. Request thru Interlibrary Loan

If we don't have an article online or in print in the library, you can order it via MOBIUS or Interlibrary Loan Service.  In most cases you will receive your article online via your MU e-mail account within a few business hours.  Interlibrary Loan requests bring in materials from out of state, and can take a few days.  There is no charge for this service.

Database Search Tips

TOP SEARCH TIPS -- applicable in almost all databases

All databases and search engines, including Google, are based on what is called "Boolean logic," using the connectors AND, OR, and to a much lesser extent, NOT.   If you understand what a database is doing behind the scenes, it will help you devise a better search to find what you need. 

Click here to see a YouTube video that illustrates Boolean logic.

Example thesis question:  What impact do video games have on the education of teenagers?

  1. Break your research question into essential key words or key terms
    • ex: video games, teenagers, education
  2. Brainstorm synonyms to expand your search.  Authors use different words to talk about the same things, so use several to find more results.  Similar terms should be connected with the Boolean Operator "OR."
    • ex: teenager OR adolescent OR young adult OR youth
  3. Use the word AND to connect the different key terms of your search and limit your results to articles and resources that include both aspects of your topic, rather than one or the other.
    • ex:  video games AND teenagers AND education
  4. Use the truncation symbol (*) to find alternate endings and plurals of words
    • ex: teen* - results in teen, teens, teenager, teenagers/adolescen* - results in adolescence, adolescent, adolescents
  5. Use quotation marks (") to group together words in a phrase
    • ex: "young adults" - results specifically in that term, rather than separate resources focusing on adults, or on younger children
  6. Utilize "Advanced Search" for more control and flexibility
    • ex: change searches based on subject terms, title, etc.
  7. If applicable, limit your search to "academic journals," or "scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals
  8. Think about the best databases to use, based on the focus of your research.  Besides Women's & Gender studies, maybe Sociology, Communications, Psychology, or Health & Medicine would be useful categories to search.
  9. When you find a good article, always look at the works cited or reference list at the end to help identify other useful articles and books on the same topic.

Our example search would look something like this:

   ("video games") AND (teen* OR adolescen* OR "young adult*) AND (education OR literacy)

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Kimberly Moeller
173 Ellis Library