Searching Solutions: Home

Understanding how searching changes from search engine to database.

Make Searching Easier

The goal of this guide is to help you become a better searcher. Keywords are only the beginning. Knowing how your favorite database uses the terms you put into the search box may make all the difference in your being able to find what you need quickly and effectively. Look for tutorials in the near future. Also, visit the Norris Medical Library's Systematic Reviews Research Guide for information on strategies and searching tips. 

Note: if you are uable to access something you know we have, visit: When the Link Doesn't Work.

Start Here

Notable tips:

  • ALWAYS access databases and search engines (including Google Scholar) through the USC Libraries pages (or My Marshall Dashboard): this links your computer to the USC databases to which you have FREE access and for which you've already paid
  • When the initial search box offers a drop-down menu of choices, it is generally what other folks have tried - more or less successfully (exceptions appear within databases)
  • Double and triple check your terms and search strategies - especially when you retrieve unexpected results
  • Always:
    • Use keywords for non-indexed databases and search engines
    • Use a combination of keywords and subject headings when searching indexed databases

Advanced Search

Most databases offer Advanced Search options. These can appear in drop-down menus, as links from a navigation menu, or even as a sliding scale (e.g, for dates). These options may only appear after a search is made or on a separate web page. Possibilities include:

  • Additional search fields (e.g., in addition to title and author, subject, ISSN, grant number, etc.)
  • Additional search options (e.g. limit or narrow a search, Boolean terms and proximity indicators, etc.)
  • Option to combine multiple searches (e.g. #1 and #4)*

*Recommended: When developing complex searches in databases that offer the option to combine searches:

  1. Search with the first concept until you have the appropriate keywords and subject terms for the database
  2. Move to the second concept, then the third concept ...
  3. Finally, combine the concept searches using the history (or related) option under the advanced search