Skip to Main Content

Information Science & Learning Technologies: Database Search Tips

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

Finding the TEXT of an article

  • Finding specific article in full-text
  • 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 thru 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.

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., "What is the role of the media in promoting negative body image?"    becomes      media AND body image                    

2. Brainstorm synonyms and connect with OR, e.g.,  media OR television OR advertising OR magazines

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 Women's & Gender studies, maybe Sociology, Communications, Psychology, or Health & Medicine would be useful categories to search. 

 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. “feminist standpoint theory” "body image"

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.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Kimberly Moeller
173 Ellis Library