Tips for Effective Use of Our Databases

  1. Select the appropriate database for your search. If you are off campus, make sure you are accessing databases via the library website, which will prompt you to authenticate with your UNM NetID.
  2. For some topics, you may want to repeat your search in an additional database to add to your unique results list.
  3. Remember to choose search terms carefully, thinking of synonyms or alternative terms. AND, OR, and NOT can be used to combine or exclude search terms.
  4. Phrase searching - putting quotation marks (" ") around multiple search terms enables you to search for a specific phrase or 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. 
  5. Truncation - the asterisk (*) is the truncation symbol in most 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.
  6. Many library databases 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.
  7. 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!
  8. Contact your librarian for more help! We can schedule an appointment or work via e-mail.