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ACP 101: Start Your Research

Researching Basics

Why use library databases?

Reasons for Using Library Databases


Library Databases

There are ads

There are no ads

Materials can be written by anyone

Materials are more likely to be written by experts

Information may not be verified

Information has been checked

There is no guarantee info has been updated

Sources are constantly updated

Can feature any kind of writing

Features only writing that has been published elsewhere

Material has various intended purposes (to entertain to persuade, to sell)

Purpose is to provide information

Access is free

Access is limited to library members, and those who pay significant subscription fees

Articles may cost money

Once accessed, full article text is free

It may or may not be clear who the author is

The author is clearly named

(Palmer, E., 2015, p. 22)                                            © 2015 by ASCD. Reproduced with permission

Palmer, E. (2015). Researching In A Digital World. Danvers, MA: ASCD.

Step 1: Finding Keywords

Video from Northwestern University

Step 2: Using Boolean Operators

Video from the John M. Pfau Library at Cal State Bernardino.

Types of Resources

Type of Resources? (See the BMMC guide for an explanation and examples of primary and secondary resources)

1. Primary (Written by the person who did the research; usually in the form of a journal or abstract)

2. Secondary (Written by another person who reviews and cites the original research)

3. Tertiary (A summary or description of the research. The primary research may not be cited)

Check For Understanding


Topic: Climate change

Question: Are humans responsible for climate change?

a. Determine key words

1) Look at your main question

2) Other clues (terms found in sources)

b. Narrowing your search

1) Boolean search terms

2) Search shortcuts

3) Parentheses, truncation and wildcards


          Boolean Search Terms





Results (in blue) contain both terms Climate Change AND Cause


Results (all of both circles) contain either Climate Change OR Cause


Results (Turquoise) contain Climate Change NOT "Natural Cause"

***Note: Some web browsers have their own search terms.


                                              Search Shortcuts




(Using Quotation Marks)

Looks for complete phrase exactly as it is typed

“human cause* for climate change”


Focuses on specific domain types

.com (commercia); .net (network); .org (organization); .gov (government); .edu (education) “human cause* for climate change”


Finds similar sites



Finds sites that are linked to this site or have used this site as a reference



Finds information in specific file format

(e.g. .doc, .ppt, .pdf, .mp3, .etc)

filetype: .pdf “human cause* for climate change”

(Palmer, 2015, pp. 28-29)


                                       Advanced Search Techniques






(Some databases might use: !, ?, or #)

Helps to expand your search to include different word endings or other possible combinations

Boy*= boys, boyfriend, boycott, etc.

C*t= cat, caught, consent, etc.


! or ?

Substitutes for a letter in a word.

M!n= man, men

Colo!r= color, colour

4. Start your search with Roosevelt databases (Video: What are the library databases and which one should I use?)


Check For Understanding