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CCC BIO 111 Information Literacy Assignment Guide (O'Shea): Searching library databases

Resources to guide you in completing Dr. O'Shea's Information Literacy Assignment, Fall 2021

Use quotes to search phrases

If you are searching a phrase rather than single words, use quotes to ensure your results only include the phrase, rather than the individual words. 

"Camden County College" By placing this in quotes, you will get articles about or mentioning CCC. If you did not use quotes, you would also get articles about Camden, Camden County, counties in general, colleges in general, etc. 

Using Boolean operators

Unlike popular web search engines, library databases typically do not respond to natural language searches (ie "what is are the health benifits of a plant-based diet). Instead, you search library databases by connecting subject terms with Boolean operators. The three most common Boolean operators are "AND" "OR' and "NOT." Use Boolean operators to expand or contract your searches: 

"plant based diet" AND health (this will seach for articles related to health and plant based diets)

"Plant based" OR vegan  (This will ensure you get articles that may use the term vegan rather than plant based) 

"Plant based diet" NOT vegetarian (this will elimitate articles that discuss vegetarian diets, which may include animal based foods) 


MIT Guide to Boolean logic

Faceted searching

Most library databases allow faceted searching. Put simply, faceted searching means you are able to fine tune your results by selecting various options or facets to improve your search results. 

Examples of facets include

Peer reviewed articles - if your assignment requires you to use peer reviewed articles, checking this option will bring back only peer review articles

Date- you can choose a specific year or range of years of publication, this helps eliminate out of date research. 

Subject- You may choose articles that relate to a specific subject area or angle of your topic. For instance if you were researching New Jersey, you might choose food, politics, music, etc to bring back articles on New Jersey related to those subjects

Publication- you may choose to view articles fro a specific publication (ex: Newsweek, The Journal of African History, etc) 

Geographic region - you may only want articles from a particular area or country, (ex: Northeastern United States, Ghana)

These are just a few examples of facets which allow you to tailor your search results to find article most relevant to your research project. 


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