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How to Find Articles: EBSCO Databases

Search Tips for EBSCO Databases


Boolean operators are used to connect words to broaden or narrow a search. They are: "and," "or," and "not." A search is narrowed when "and" connects words to each other, e.g. "children and adults." Both words must be in an article. The word, "not," narrows a search, also. "Children not adults" excludes adults from the search. However, when using "or," e.g. "children or adults," the search is broader because the computer is searching for both groups of people but, not necessarily, in the same article.


If time is a factor and articles cannot be obtained from other libraries, the search should be narrowed by selecting the database's full-text box.


If the article is not in the database, you should do a "Periodical Title" search in the IUCAT, the library's online catalog. The journal that has the desired article may be online or on a shelf on the second floor of the library. The journals and magazines are shelved, alphabetically, by title near the elevators.


When typing a search inquiry in the "Find" box, use parentheses ( ) to group words. Those words are searched as a group. It does not matter in which order they were typed. For example, (identity theft) can retrieve the term, identity theft and the words, theft of someone's identity.


To increase or decrease your results, use the "Publication Date" box or slider to tell the computer what publication dates the articles it retrieves should have.


If a search term is enclosed in quotation marks, "", the exact term will be searched in the database. The words, morbid and obesity, in quotation marks, e.g. "morbid obesity" tell the computer that it is an exact term which should be searched, accordingly.


To avoid getting some false hits, it is important to remember to use the subject terms and thesaurus features to find helpful/appropriate search terms for a search.


One way to broaden a search is to truncate a word. This means that the computer can search for words that have the same root, but have different endings. The asterisk, *, symbolizes truncation. It is used at the end of the root of a word. For example, the root, "comput" plus the asterisk, *, in the "Find" box may result in the following words, "computation," "compute," "computer," and "computing."

Search Features in EBSCO Databases


The abstract is a brief summary of the article. It provides information to help the researcher determine if the article is a good source to use. It is found on the detailed record page. An example is shown in the tutorial, "Reading an Article."


The acronym, MeSH, stands for "Medical Subject Headings." The subject headings are created by the National Library of Medicine. This controlled vocabulary will help students know which search terms to use. Some of the databases in the "Health/Medicine/Nursing" category use MeSH. Please refer to the tutorial, "Using CINAHL and MeSH Headings," for details on how to use the medical subject headings.


Sometimes, the article is not, immediately, available. Therefore, the researcher should use the library's interlibrary loan service, referred to as "Illiad," to obtain a copy of the desired article. To begin this procedure, the requester must click the link, "Request through interlibrary loan" under the record on the database's result list. First-time users must fill out the registration form at Other users may log in and submit the request to the library's System Services department. For more details about this service, please go to the LibGuide, "Using Illiad."


Peer-reviewed journals consist of articles that were evaluated by two or more experts before they were published. This limiter is found on the basic search page, the advanced search page and among the facets beside the result list. This feature narrows the search results and retrieves scholarly research materials. In addition, many IU Northwest professors require their students to use this feature.


These specialized search terms are determined by the Library of Congress. They help students to select the appropriate search terms when researching information. To use subject terms in an EBSCO database, CINAHL, for example, please view the tutorial, "Using CINAHL/MeSH Headings."


The thesaurus consists of controlled vocabulary. It indicates which terms are broader, narrower, related to or replaced by other terms. Many of the terms are defined, also. This work helps students to select the appropriate terms to use in a search.


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