Deciding on a topic is possibly the most difficult part of doing research. If you're not sure of how to start, talk with your professor, ask a Reference Librarian, or search the online database pages on a subject related to your topic.
After deciding on a topic and identifying
the keywords, the next step is to choose a database. With over 70
different databases, this can be confusing.
If you are unsure of where to start, ask a reference librarian for suggestions,
... OR ...
Searching any database can be more effective by understanding and using a few basic search strategies. Databases vary in the way you have to type in these strategies, so be sure to either check out the database help screens or ask a reference librarian.
When an article is indexed in a database, it is given subject headings that describe what information is covered. Subject headings are limited to a set of terms developed by the company that produces the database. To know what terms are "subject" headings, check to see if the database provide a Thesaurus or a List of Subjects.
PRO: Authors use different terms when writing about the same concept (cars, automobiles, motor vehicles, etc.). Rather than thinking of every possible synonym, find and use the subject heading for that concept to retrieve all relevant articles, regardless of the terms authors may use.
CON: There may not be a subject heading for your concept or it may be difficult to find one that exactly fits your concept.
Keyword or Phrase Searching
In a keyword search the database generates a list of articles that can have the term or phrase anywhere in the record for that article ... in the title, author, abstract or even in their subject headings.
PRO: Sometimes a concept may be a narrower aspect of a broad subject heading (text comprehension is a specific aspect of reading). Searching "text comprehension" as a keyword phrase saves you the time of wading through all the articles on "reading" that don't deal with text comprehension.
CON: Keyword searching usually retrieves a lot of articles but not all of them will use the keyword in the context you want. For example, a keyword search using "reading" might also get you articles on business management by an author named George Reading.
Truncation allows you to search for a root form of a word and pick up all variations of that term. Truncating broadens your search and ensure that you retrieve all items containing some form of that word.
teen* will retrieve articles with the terms
If you want all forms of the term culture, and you type cul*, your articles will contain terms that you don't want:
The best way to truncate culture is cultur*.
The search engine of online journal indexes are based on a system of combining terms using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to control the results of your search. To use two or more Boolean operators, you need to know how to use a technique called nesting.
The black area represents only those articles that have both children and adolescents present.
memory OR recall
children NOT adolescents
The black area represents those articles that have the term children but not the term adolescents.
Nesting involves using parentheses so the search engine will perform the Boolean operations in the sequence you intend. This technique allows you to build a complex search using two or more operators (AND, OR, NOT, NEAR, WITH).
In this search the OR operation is nested and will be performed first. Then the AND operation will be performed. The search results are represented by the yellow i.e. articles on risk taking or risky behavior and adolescents as well as items on risk taking or risky behavior and teenagers.
Another way to refine a search is to limit your search to a field. A field is an record element containing a specific type of information about a journal article. Some examples of fields are:
When to Use Field Specific Searching
To find out how to do a field-specific search in a
particular database, check the database's Help screens or ask a
In our indexes the phrase " Linked Full Text , the adobe acrobat icon or a graphic shows that the full-text is available directly from the index vendor.
If the full text is not directly available, you should find a phrase "Check 360 Link for full text" and/or an icon . Clicking on these links will either take you directly to the full-text article or to a page that offers you other options to retrieve the article.
Be sure the computer you are using has the necessary software (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Reader) to view and print out some types of full-text articles.
The UMass Lowell E-Journal & Newspaper list contains
the links to all our online journals and newspapers.
Use this list if Linksource is missing at the end of a citation in your search results or if you are trying to find articles from the references in a book or another journal article
Journals not available electronically may be available
at UMass Lowell in paper or microfilm format.
Search the Library Catalog
If the article you want is not available at UMass Lowell:
A database is a general term for any structured file of records that you can search. Our catalog is a database of records for our books, scores, music recordings, videos and DVDs, etc. A journal index is a database of records for articles published in journals, magazines, and often newspapers. With most journal indexes there are brief summaries of the article called abstracts. All databases have search engines, that is, software that enables you to search and retrieve items. Searching a database gives you list of citations, that describe the items.
A journal citation contains the basic information needed to identify and find a journal article. This is the same information you will need in typing up the list of articles (references) you use to write your paper.
Secret History Of Lead. (use of leaded gasoline) Jamie
The Nation March 20, 2000 v270 i11 p11
Full-text is a term that means that the content of an article is available online, not just a citation.
The Secret History Of Lead. (use of leaded gasoline).
Jamie Lincoln Kitman.
The Nation March 20, 2000 v270 i11 p11.
Linked HTML Linked text with graphics
Full text can come in a variety of formats.
Consult the recommended style sheet to see how to reference online articles.