Online Library Resources

EBSCO Discovery Service

The EBSCO Discovery Service provides users with a means of accessing all of an institution's information resources through a single search.

Tutorials are available in the Orientation Module of your LMS. You can also use the following tips below to help you manipulate this powerful tool most effectively.

Search tips and strategies

How to conduct effective searches in databases and indexes

    1. Plan your search before you start on the keyboard.
    2. Choose a topic, and then turn it into a research question. Ask yourself: What do I already know about the topic? What do I want to know about the topic?
    3. Choose keywords and synonyms from your research question. Keywords are usually the main ideas or concepts in your research question.
    4. To find synonyms for your keywords or subject headings (descriptors) you can:
      • use a thesaurus or dictionary on the Web or in print
      • use a specific database's thesaurus either online or in print format, such as:
        • Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors
        • Library of Congress Authorities
      • Look at the subject headings (descriptors) used in one good citation or abstract, and then do your search using those better subject terms.
    5. Choose a database or online index that best matches the content you are seeking. For Education journal articles with full-text, start with any of these databases: Education Research Complete, ERIC ProQuest Education Journals, or Wilson Select Plus.
    6. Read the HELP sections of each database before you start searching.
    7. For more precise searches, use subject headings (descriptors) assigned by indexers of journal articles, books, and ERIC documents included in the database. Keyword searches are less precise, but provide a beginning and broad search.
    8. Create your search by combining search terms with Boolean Operators (OR, AND, NOT). Here are examples of how Boolean operators work:

Dogs OR Cats

Retrieves every citation with either word (enlarges the retrieved set)

Dogs AND Cats

Retrieves every citation with both words (reduces the retrieved set)

Dogs NOT Cats

Retrieves every citation with Dogs but leaves out any citation that also has Cats (reduces the set)

Dogs AND (Cats OR MICE)

Retrieves every citation with Dogs and either Cats or Mice (enlarges the set)

(Dogs AND Cats) OR MICE

Retrieves every citation with both Dogs and Cats, then adds every citation with Mice (enlarges the set)

    1. Enclose search phrases in quotation marks or parentheses to keep words together. Example: "educational testing"
    2. Start searching.
    3. Evaluate your results by browsing a few retrieved citations. Did you get the results you wanted? If not, do the search again using different search terms and/or different Boolean combinations.
      Hint: do not browse through more than about 20 citations. Correct your search strategy and search terms, then redo the search.
    4. Use the Pearl Growing technique for best results:
      • Find one good citation using keywords and browsing.
      • Look at how that one good citation was indexed in that specific database. What subject headings were assigned to that citation by indexers?
      • Using better subject headings or more precise keywords, redo your search.