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Oxford College Library Orientation 2023

Database Basics - Be Sure to Click all Six Tabs!

Welcome to the wonderful world of database searching! A database is a collection of scholarly journals that allows you to search through those journals for information based on your topic, rather than requiring you to go through each journal one by one. 

There is a lot of information here, so take your time, study the videos and tutorials, maybe take some notes, and then dive in and get your hands dirty.  You can get to our full list of databases with the button below or by clicking databases on the Oxford Library home page


TIP: Emory has about 1,000 databases and it can be difficult deciding which ones to use.  Find an appropriate Research Guide to identify the recommended databases for your field of study or contact the library for advice on where to start.

You're ready to try a basic search! This video walks you through a search in an EBSCO database. Don't let the term " Advanced Search" scare you. It just means you have more options to design your search from the start.

How to Get the Full Text of an Article (when it isn’t in the database)

Some databases may not have the full text of every article. Sometimes, a database only provides the citation and abstract. This is useful for evaluating the relevance of the article to your research, but not so great, if you decide that you want to read the entire article.
Fortunately, Emory has a tool that will search for an article in all of our online databases and connect you to the full text of that article if it is available in any of those databases. 

Look for aundefinedlink in your results list. In EBSCO databases, it looks like this ------>





The button automatically searches for that specific article and connects you to the full-text if it's available.
In this case, the article is available in a different databases. Click on the link to see that database's entry for the article, along with the attached full text.






If you get the results saying "No full text available", don’t give up! Instead, look for the Interlibrary Loan link and submit a request for the article. See the section of this guide on interlibrary loan for more info.

When an article you want isn't available from one of Emory Libraries' resources, or, say, when you find an article in a web search but the publisher wants you to pay $35 to download it, the library's Interlibrary Loan department comes to the rescue! 

There are two ways to order an article using Interlibrary Loan. The first is to click on the link to Find it at Emory that accompanies a citation in a database.  If we don't have the article in any other database, you'll see a link to request the article via interlibrary loan:

Click there to go to the sign-in page for Interlibrary Loan. Once you sign in, the system pre-fills a form with all the information needed to order the article. (If it's your first time using ILL, you will need to register. The system will walk you through the prompts.) If you have any problems, please email, or chat with us for help: 


What happens next? Our interlibrary loan department identifies a library that owns the journal and sends the request to them. That library scans the article into a PDF and, once it's uploaded to your ILL account, you get an email that the article is available.  An uploaded ILL document is only available for 30 days or five views, whichever comes first, so it's a good idea to download the PDF right away! Oh, and even though the name of the service is interlibrary loan, articles are yours to keep. 

The other way to order an article requires a bit more effort, but it works just as well.  Log in to Interlibrary Loan from our homepage menu, click Create Request, and select the type of item you are requesting: Article, Book/Media, or Book Chapter. Fill in the form with as much information as you can and submit the request.

We can get almost any article requested through ILL. It is seamless, fast (but not instant), and free to you, so don't let that perfect article get away! 

Wondering what "peer review" means? Watch this video from the librarians at North Carolina State University.

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar searches for scholarly content across the internet. It's easy to use, but you won't want to rely on it as your only source.

undefinedConnect Google Scholar to Emory Libraries:

  1. Go to Google Scholar:
  2. Go to Settings. (You may have to click the Menu icon to see the settings) undefined
  3. Go to Library links and type in Emory University
  4. Select Find it @ Emory
  5. Save.
  6. Now you will be able to click "Find it @ Emory" to get free access to your results.



Advanced Database Use - Click Both Tabs Below!

While searching:

  • Break your search into keywords. Keywords are the most important concepts in your topic and their synonyms. For example:
    • Your topic is: What killed the dinosaurs?
      • Some possible keywords are: dinosaurs, extinction
    • Your topic is: Using drama across the curriculum in a middle school classroom.
      • Some possible keywords are: drama, theater, curriculum, subjects, middle school, elementary, integrated curriculum, etc. 
  • Limit to peer-reviewed journals. That's what your professors expect you to use in your research.
  • Narrow your search. Add a date range, keyword, etc. 
  • Expand keywords with truncation:  bicycl* (retrieves bicycle, bicycles, bicycled, bicycling).
  • Read the abstract of an article to find out if it really is beneficial to your research.
  • Ask for help: chat with us OR Make an appointment with a librarian!

Database Searching Tips

  • LOOK AT THE WHOLE SCREEN FIRST. Before you start searching in an unfamiliar database, look at the whole search screen first. What search tools are available to you? Are there check boxes, limiters, subject headings, indexes, a link to get help?
  • KEEP IT SIMPLE. Search with only the most necessary keywords from your topic and don't use all of them at once. Example (keywords in italics): What are the effects of global warming on the animals in national parks?  You might want to get more specific and search for:  climate changewildlifeYellowstone
  • FIND A FEW (2-3) RELEVANT ARTICLES. You don't need to start with 20 articles; find a couple of very relevant ones and read those first. You may discover other topics, authors or references or you may decide to change your topic.
  • SEARCH USING SUBJECT HEADINGS.  Browse a database’s Thesaurus or list of Subject Terms to find subject headings relevant to your topic OR use a subject heading link in an article record to search for more articles with that heading. 


 “Boolean Searching”  uses the words “AND” “OR” “NOT” to limit or expand a search in a database. Most of the time, you will use “AND”.

  • I want articles about adolescents with self-esteem issues. My search strategy is:  self esteem AND adolescents This retrieves only articles where ALL these words appear within the database record.
  • I want articles about school administrators, but I don't want to miss any that use the word principals. My search strategy is:  principals OR administrators.  This retrieves articles where either of these words appear within the database record.
  • I want articles about recreational activities, but I'm not interested in hiking.  My search strategy is: recreation NOT hikingThis retrieves articles that include the word recreation, but leaves out the ones that also have the word hiking.
  • I can combine Boolean operators if necessary. If I want articles about administrators of middle schools. My search strategy is:  (principals OR administrators) AND "middle schools".  The parentheses creates a set of article records that have either the word principals or the word administrators. To get the articles about middle schools from within that set, I narrow my search with AND.

Boolean database search image