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How to Search Databases: Understanding Databases

Learn how to effectively and efficiently search the library databases.

Rule # 1: Databases do not operate like a Google Search.

Rule # 2: Do not enter a question into a database search box.

Databases use keywords and the boolean operators to locate information

  • Keywords are important words/concepts found in your research question or thesis statement. Using a single keyword to search will always retrieve more results than using a phrase or sentence.
  • Boolean operators are the simple words AND, OR , NOT, or AND NOT, used as conjunctions to combine or exclude keywords in a search. Using boolean operators results in more focused and productive search results.

For more help finding and using keywords, visit the the tabs Developing Keywords and Search Strategies, located at the top of the page.

For help searching in a particular database, visit the tab Database Tutorial Videos.

Tips & Shortcust for Database Searching

For More Help

 Click here to schedule a virtual meeting with the librarian.

Phone: (304) 825-7536

Pronto: CDU Library

Search all the Library's Databases from a Single Location

worldcat search box

The library's Worldcat Discovery Search Box, located on the library's homepage, lets you search all the library's holdings from a single location. Use the dropdown menu on the left to search by Keyword, Author, Subject, or Title.

Do not enter questions.

  • Keywords: avoid entering more than a single word without using a boolean operator between words. If you need to use a key phrase, such as covenant theology, enter the phrase in quotation marks, "covenant theology" to single the database to search for the words as a phrase and not two individual keywords.
  • Author names:enter as lastname, firstname; no quotation marks needed.
  • Subject terms: like keywords, should be entered in quotation marks if the subject term is made up of more than a single word, i.e. "Catholic theology."
  • Titles: can be entered in full or partial, no quotation marks needed.

For more help visit Worldcat Discovery in the Database Tutorial Videos tab.