Tips for Effective Use of Our Databases
- Select a database that is appropriate for the topic and specific needs of your research. Use the Library's Subject Database lists and Research Guides for guidance on choosing databases for specific subject research. If you are off campus, make sure you are accessing databases via the UNM Library website, which will prompt you to authenticate with your UNM NetID.
- For some topics, you may want to repeat your search in more than one database to add to your unique results list. The content in some databases may overlap, but most also contain unique content & unique search functions.
- Remember to choose your database search terms/keywords carefully. Consider what possible synonyms or related concepts may exist, which you could use to enhance your search. Use Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT to combine or exclude search terms.
- Phrase searching - putting quotation marks (" ") around multiple search terms enables you to search for a specific phrase or precise string of words next to one another. For example, searching "community ecology" will retrieve only articles that include the words together as a phrase. Searching community ecology without quotes will retrieve articles that mention community and ecology anywhere in the records, not necessarily together as a phrase.
- Truncation - the asterisk (*) is the truncation symbol in most library databases. Using this symbol to replace a word ending will broaden your results set. For example, searching for nitrogen AND fix* will retrieve results for nitrogen fixation, nitrogen fixers, fixed nitrogen, and so on. Library databases take your search terms literally and will not automatically retrieve word variations that aren't explicitly searched.
- Many library databases primarily index information (including full citations and abstracts/summaries of each article), and it takes a few extra steps to connect with full text content, if available. If you don't see a direct PDF download option for an article, look for the "Find @ UNM" link and follow steps accordingly.
- Each database has detailed help screens to assist you if you're having trouble and provide tips to help you hone your searching skills. Library databases are more complicated than Google, but they are worth the extra effort to find appropriate sources!
- Contact your librarian for more help! We can schedule an appointment or work via e-mail.