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Trauma Informed Education: Finding Sources

Less Known Search Tips

In some databases you can use different search strategies to get even better results. Try some of these!


An asterisk (*) can be used to search for multiple word endings.

Ex. knit* = knit, knits, knitter, knitters, knitting


A question mark (?) can be used as a wildcard.

Ex. wom?n = women or woman


Quotation marks (" ") can be used to search for an exact phrase.

Ex. "climate change"

How do we find sources?

Different Types of Information you may use in your research:

  • Popular Sources: Magazine, News Papers,
  • Websites: .com; .gov; .edu
  • Scholarly: Journal articles written by experts
    • Scholarly does not always ≠ peer review
    • Peer review does always = scholarly
  • Books/Book Chapters: Check for relevance/bias
  • Trade Publications: Specific to one's trade
  • Dissertations/Thesis: Scholarly research by students
  • Gov. Docs: Census reports, statistics, transcripts



What is Peer reviewed?

"Peer review is designed to assess the validity, quality and often the originality of articles for publication. Its ultimate purpose is to maintain the integrity of science by filtering out invalid or poor quality articles. From a publisher’s perspective, peer review functions as a filter for content, directing better quality articles to better quality journals and so creating journal brands." (Wiley, 2000).




Secondary Sources Primary Sources   
Define: Secondary sources are documents, texts, images, and objects about an event created by someone who typically referenced the primary sources for their information. Secondary sources often present a second-hand experience. Define: A primary source is an original object or document created, distributed, or recalled by a person who had personal experience of an event or point in time. Primary sources present first-hand experience.                                              
Examples: Review Articles, Articles providing an analysis of someone else's research, Encyclopedia entry, Literature Reviews,   Examples: Newspaper articles, Diary entries, Original research data, photos, paintings, interviews, historical documents, manuscripts
When to use: Literature Review, Informative Essays, Presenting other opinions on a topic,  When to use: Archival Paper, present original source or research, present public opinion of a historical event
Where to find: Databases, Encyclopedias, Textbooks, Bibliographies Where to find: Archives, Museums, primary source databases, 
Databases: Academic Search CompleteOpposing Viewpoints In ContextJSTORLiterature Resource CenterBloom's Literature and many more!

Databases: Historic American NewspapersPrimary SearchScientific American Archives (1948-2011)African-American History

For a full list of Primary Source Databases:

Primary Sources


How do we find keywords?

Keywords are there to guide your research efforts and find you the most relevant sources for your topic.

Steps to finding keywords:

  1. Write down your research question(s).
  2. Highlight the most important words in your question.
  3. Pull out those words and write them down.
  4. Think of synonyms for those words.

Now you have a list of keywords to start your search!


How is coastal development affecting the Dugong that inhabits the Great Barrier Reef?

Initial keywords: Coastal Development; Dugong, inhabit, Great Barrier Reef



coastal development = infrastructure or tourism 

Dugong = sea-cow

Great Barrier Reef =  Is a specific place required for your research question. There are no synonyms for this keyword.

If you aren't getting enough results think of BROADER keywords

Ex. Dugong = sea mammals

**You want to know about the Dugong specifically but by using sea mammals you may find sources that discuss Dugong along with other sea mammals.


If your results aren't specific enough think of more NARROW keywords

Ex. Coastal Development = aquaculture or fishing 

**These are specific types of coastal development. By using one of these terms you may find a source that is more relevant to endangering the Dugong.







Boolean Operators!


How do we use them to create a search string?


  • Use AND in between keywords to NARROW results

                 ex: "coastal development" and "Great Barrier Reef"

This will provide results that must have both "coastal development" and "Great Barrier Reef" 



  • Use OR in between keywords to BROADEN results

                  ex: "Dugong" or "sea cow" or "sea mammal"

This will provide results that have or use any of these terms.



  • Use NOT in between keywords to EXCLUDE results

                 ex: "development" not "tourism"

This will provide results that include types of development that isn't tourism.


You can combine these to create a stronger search string that will give you more relevant results!



Here are a few of the ways you can try:


(__________ OR __________)  AND ___________

Ex: (Dugong or sea cow) and coastal development



__________ AND (__________ OR ____________)

Ex:  Commercial fishing and (habitats or sea cows )



(___________ AND __________) NOT __________

Ex: (habitats and coastal development) not tourism



(__________ OR ____________) NOT ___________

Ex: (sea cow or Dugong) not habitat




The Database Homepage is where you will be able to find all the databases we have access to through the library!

Database Homepage



You can find databases by most popular...

Most popular databases



...or by Subject and Field of Study.

Database by Subject



If you want to search for a database or scroll through them all we have an option for that too!



And if you just aren't sure which database to use click on our chat button and one of your librarians will be happy to help! Chat button Screenshot






This is your main search bar. Most Databases will look similar to this. In this bar you will use the search string you have made using your keywords and Boolean Operators.



You can search through multiple databases by clicking on the  button below . You will be able to put a check next to any database you want to search



Once you have clicked search you will have a list similar to this one. You will need to limit down your sources by date of publication, peer reviewed items, and full text. Those can all be found on the left side of the page as shown below. These are called limiters and there are many more that are not pictured here. They can help narrow down your results based on the parameters of your project.


Once you have set your limiters you want to make sure you are sorting your results by RELEVANCE not by date. Since you have already set the standards for your dates you will want to see the most relevant results first!



Once you have found an article that you find relevant you there are a couple things you will want to look at. Go to detailed record. 


Read the abstract to see if you are interested in the article. If you are look at the subject terms and make note of them. You can use these later as new keywords. That will help you find more articles like the one you have already found!


If you want to save the article make sure you save the permalink!