Research tips: Database features that will make your life easier

Look to the left.  Feel like that sometimes?  Yeah, you know you’re not alone. Stress and frustration is sometimes a part of graduate life, especially when you aren’t having luck finding the information you are searching for in databases.

In the years that I’ve been a student, I’ve realized that there are a couple of database features, some which are somewhat unnoticeable to students, that are pretty useful.  So, here they are: the three database features that will make your life easier.

Feature number 1) Subject terms/Thesaurus

Think of subject terms like official keywords or tags that are used by the database to organize the loads of info they have. Most databases have them, at least the ones I’ve run into. Before you input the keywords you’ve written down and hit search, try to input those keywords into the database’s subject term search or thesaurus. You might be surprised to run into great synonyms you never thought of.

What this looks like in real life: Notice the thesaurus circled in red and the dropdown option to the left of that is set to “subject heading.”

Feature number 2)  Choose your database: When you do a general search, you have the option to add or subtract databases from your search so that your results will be more pertinent to what you are looking for.

Here’s what it looks like in real life…Do you see it? Top left corner. Hidden, isn’t it?  I know, I didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out. Use this to limit or expand your research results.

Last one, feature number 3) Article Linker or E-Link. What does it do?  Its mission is to find the article that you are looking for. FYI: Sometimes you’ll have to do a little bit of clicking through other pages with similar linkings until you get there.

What it looks like in real life…


There it is.  The three (of many) research tips that will make your databases searching a little bit easier.

Happy researching!