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Research Foundations Tutorial

A self-paced, open course to build your research skills

Step #1: Choose a Database

Step #1:

  • Click the A-Z Databases link below to view an alphabetical list of over 400 databases.

Step #2:

  • You may choose a Subject category from the All Subjects drop-down menu to view the databases organized into categories like Business, Canadian Studies, Education, Health Sciences, etc.

After selecting a database, you may be prompted to login using your Brock University Username and Password. This step is necessary to authenticate (or authorize) your status as a Brock University student. This means that you can access Library databases from off-campus computers.

Step #2: Enter Keywords

Basic Searching

The very basic way to search in a database is to just add your keywords and click Search. You can still use the techniques discussed on the Choose Keywords and Create Search Statements pages for best results.

screencapture of a basic search option

example of a basic search option in a database

Advanced Searching

There is usually an "Advanced Search" link near the basic search box in a database. Some databases will even begin with an advanced search. You can typically spot an advanced searching interface because it will have multiple search boxes and may include multiple search fields. These search fields allow you to limit your keywords to the title, author, text, or subject terms of the article. Subject terms are standardized terms that describe the article's content. Each search box will also have associated drop-down menus to select Boolean terms AND, OR, or NOT to connect to the other search boxes.

screencapture of an advanced search option

example of an advanced search feature in a database

Step #3: Limit the Results

After retrieving the search results, you may be faced with too many results to look through. At this point, look for the databases limiting features. Here is a list of features that are common in most databases:

  • Full Text - Check this to ensure you can read the entire text of the article.
  • Publication Date - Use this to limit to a specific time frame. This a great option to use if you are looking for current information.
  • Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed - Usually will limit to academic journals or scholarly books.
  • Source or Document Type - This refers to the format of the results like journal, book, magazines, literary criticism, review, or newspaper.