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AFAM 101: Dr. Brackett

Using Databases

Library databases are good starting points to find articles on a range of topics.

Database Search Tips

When search databases, keep these techniques in mind.

Start simple, using a phrase or a few words. Then narrow your search if you have too many results.

Use AND to connect two different concepts together.

diversity AND curriculum

Quotation marks search for an exact phrase.

   "African American Studies"

Use OR to find related terms.

campus OR university OR college

Use an asterisk * to find variant word endings. Be careful not to shorten your word too much, because this can bring back results that are not relevant.

discriminat* finds discriminate, discriminates, discriminatory, discrimination, etc.

Example of Search Techniques:

Too Many Results?

Feeling overwhelmed? Try these strategies.

  • Be more specific with your search terms.
  • Add terms and connect with AND
  • Use quotation marks around phrases.
  • Use subject terms instead of keywords.
  • Use the search limiters.
    • Change the search field to abstract or title.
    • Limit to a specific date range, ex. 2000-2017
  • Change the database. Use a subject specific one.
    • Instead of Academic Search Premier, try Music Periodicals Database.

Too Few Results?

What if you can't find enough articles? Try these strategies.

  • Is everything spelled correctly?
  • Is there an alternative term that would work?
    • Instead of persona, use identity
  • Use broader search terms.
  • If you had multiple search terms, try reducing the number of terms. If you had been connecting terms with AND, try using OR instead.
  • Try using  truncation symbol to give the search flexibility
  • Remove search limiters.
  • Try a different database.Make sure the subject and coverage are appropriate for your search.
    • Use a multidisciplinary database like Research Library.
  • Ask a librarian! 

Multidisciplinary Databases

When starting your research, it's a good idea to search multidisciplinary databases as they help identify what scholars are writing about from different perspectives.

Subject Databases in the Social Sciences

The following are recommended subject specific databases that cover scholarly sources in the social sciences.Can't find what you are looking for in these databases? Go to the Databases A-Z list.

Subject Databases in the Humanities

Search Primo

Start with Primo to find books, selected articles and other sources for your topic.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches open access materials as well as items from many publishers, including some of the resources to which Collins Library subscribes. However, Google Scholar only searches a fraction of the published scholarly literature. Use the databases listed on the page as well as others found on the database A-Z list.


  • Use advanced searching to search phrases, authors, publications, and dates.
  • Google Scholar includes many citations that link directly to publishers' web sites of which most will charge a fee for access. However, Collins Library may subscribe to these publications. Search the journal title in Primo.
  • Google Scholar provides forward citation searching, automatically extracting and displaying works cited as separate results.
Google Scholar Search