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Aging Studies: Database Search Tips

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

Database Search Tips

TOP TEN SEARCH TIPS   -- applicable in almost all databases

All databases, 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.

  1. Break your research question into essential key words and connect with AND,  e.g., "Is there a correlation between aging and depression?"    becomes aging and depression                    
  2. Brainstorm synonyms and connect with OR, e.g.,  aging or elderly or geriatrics
  3. Don’t get stuck on one term if there are other ways of expressing it.
  4. Think about the best databases to use, based on the focus of your research.  Besides Sociology, Sociology of Aging can be found in Psychology, Medical, and Social Work databases, too.
  5. Use wild card/ truncation symbol (*) to get plurals and variant endings, e.g.,  method*  will find method, methods, methodology, methodologies, methodological.
  6. Use “Advanced Search”  for more control and flexibility.  
  7. Limit to the abstract to help eliminate irrelevant results.
  8. Put quotes around a term that’s a phrase to keep the words together, e.g. “assisted living" or "elder care" or "elder abuse"
  9. If applicable, limit your search to “Academic Journals” or “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals”
  10. 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.

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 Interlibrary Loan.

If we don't have an article online or in print in the library, you can order it via Interlibrary Loan Service.  In most cases you will receive your article online via your MU e-mail account within 3 days.  As long as you plan ahead and don't wait until the last minute, you should get your article in plenty of time for your research project.  There is no charge for this service.