Conducting Research in Databases

To find evidence for your assignments, use search library databases like OneSearch.

How to Efficiently Search Library Databases

Library databases contain reliable and credible information for your academic or research needs. This guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to search library databases effectively, allowing you to access a wealth of scholarly resources.

1) Define Your Research Topic

Clearly identify your research question or topic to narrow down your search focus. Break your topic into keywords and synonyms that best represent your research area. Your keywords become your search terms.

2) Select the Appropriate Database

Choose the most relevant database(s) based on your research topic. Different databases specialize in various subject areas, so select those that align with your research needs. OneSearch is JCU’s generic database, and a good starting point.

3) Utilise Advanced Search Techniques

Use advanced search options provided by the database to refine your search results. Combine keywords using Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) for more precise results. Utilize quotation marks for exact phrase searches, and asterisks (*) for wildcard searches.

4) Review Search Results

Carefully examine the search results and read the abstracts to determine the relevance of each article to your research. Note the publication date, author credentials, and journal reputation to assess the credibility of the sources. Exclude any results that do not suit your criteria.

5) Narrow Down Your Search

If you have too many results, add more specific keywords to narrow down your search. Use database filters (e.g., publication date, publication type, subject) to refine your results further.

6) Access Full Text

If a full-text link is not immediately available, use the "Find It" or "Get it" options to access the full article through the library subscriptions. For advanced users: once you have chosen key texts you may want to use a literature mapping tool such as Research Rabbit to expand your results.

7) Cite Your Sources

When using information from the database, cite the sources properly according to the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

8) Save and Organise

Save the articles or records that are most relevant to your research in a separate folder or use citation management tools like EndNote or Zotero to organize your references. Put your references into your essay plan.

Here are two approaches to improve your search strategy:

Boolean Search

  • Simplify your online searches using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).
  • Use "AND" to find results where both keywords appear together.
  • Use "OR" to find results with either keyword.
  • Use "NOT" to exclude certain words.
  • Use brackets () to group keywords for complex searches.
  • Use double quotation marks "" to search for an exact phrase.
  • Apply these techniques to make your searches specific and save time.

Nested Search

  • Nesting involves combining related ideas or words within one search using parentheses.
  • Group words together with parentheses to focus results without multiple searches.
  • Combine nesting with AND, OR, " " (exact phrase), * (wildcard), and NEAR for more effective keyword searches.
  • Example: (dogs OR cats OR (walking NOT sitting)) AND (parks or homes) focuses on animals walking but not sitting, in parks or homes.
  • Example: (pet sitting AND (walk* AND sit*)) NEAR home uses the wildcard * and NEAR function for variations of words and proximity to "home."

These methods help you conduct precise searches, save time, and obtain relevant results. Watch a short video from JCU library for more clarification on this search strategy.

Essay Writing Basics Video 2: Finding Evidence

Essay Writing Basics Video 2: Finding Evidence

Academic Integrity: Referencing Quick Guide

It is important to reference any idea that is not your own. This is one of the key principles of Academic Integrity.

The most commonly used referencing style is APA referencing. This is known as an 'author-date' style. There are two parts to referencing. The first is called in-text referencing, which is where you reference ideas within your writing in a short form. The second is at the end of the text where you reference in a full form. The reference list begins on a new page at the end of the document and is in alphabetical order.

In APA 7th the short form looks like this:

APA 7th the short form example

In APA 7th the long form for a journal article looks like this:

APA 7th the long form example

For more assistance with APA 7th referencing style:

For JCU Library APA guides and all other styles use the Library Referencing Guide