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Reference Help: Search Tips & Tricks

Selecting & Saving Content From a Database

  • Not all database are equal. Read the description of the database carefully.  If you select a database and do not find content that you can use for your paper you may need to: try another database, revise your search terms; or email your liaison librarian and ask for help.  
  • Use the Keyword Worksheet in the library handouts to help you think critically about the words you have selected to search. Look for alternate keywords in the text of your assigned readings. Look for subject headings in the article records in the database.
  • Be aware of bias in sources and language; make sure that you address bias in your paper.
  • Do not use your browser url address bar to save a document. Look for a permalink or persistent url within the database, or use the save, email, or export options.

Research Help

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Search Tips and Training

Search Tips

  • Use the Advanced Search
  • Check to see if the database has a Thesaurus or Index, and consider using it
  • Enter each separate keyword concept in a different box
  • Select the Boolean/Phrase radio button
  • Use an asterisk * at the end of a word to get variant endings : child* yields child and children
  • Use quotation marks to search for a phrase, two adjacent words in the same order : "cookie monster"
  • Consider using the medium or industry as a subject, or look for a database designed specifically for research in that medium or industry (film, television, news)
  • Consider limiting by date, and using theories, concepts, technologies, geographies, demographics, and regulations as keywords
  • Consider Source Type: Advertisements, Trade Publications, Magazines, Newspapers, Scholarly Journals, Books

Research Help


There are many ways to get help, here are just a few:

  • Use the Ask a Librarian service to chat live with a librarian. Find the box to connect to this service on this page.
  • Find the Library Liaison for your discipline, subject, topic, or program and email them to ask for help.
  • Look for the Research Guide that most closely matches your discipline, program, or topic area to learn about recommended resources and search techniques.
  • Check the selection of Library Handouts to see if any of the topics fit your needs.
  • Look for HELP options in databases and/or electronic resources to find recommended tips and search techniques.
  • Look for the following items within databases to improve or expand your search: subject headings, keywords lists, a database thesaurus, an index, or clues within cited sources in a particular book or article.

Reference & Instruction Department

Reference & Instruction Department
Fordham University Libraries

Walsh Library  ♦  Rose Hill Campus  ♦  718-817-3586   
Quinn Library  ♦  Lincoln Center Campus  ♦  212-636-6050   
Fordham Westchester Library  ♦  Fordham Westchester Campus  ♦  914-367-3061   ♦   text 71-TXTX-1284 ♦ 
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