Skip to Main Content
Michigan State University

Introduction to History Research at MSU: Finding Articles

Database Search Tips

1. Put phrases in quotation marks

Use quotation marks to search for a specific phrase in a database. These tell the database to search for sources containing the entire phrase, rather thank just the individual words. For example:

 Search: "government policy"

returns results with this exact phrase

Search: government policy

returns results with the individual words "government" and "policy"

2. Use "and" to make your search more specific

Combine search terms using "and" to find sources that contain both of those terms, not just one or the other. For example:

Search: "Confederate States of America" AND Georgia

returns results that contain both "confederacy" and "Georgia"

3. Use "or" to make your search broader 

Search for several similar terms using "or" to increase the number of results you find. For example:

Search: "civil war" AND (education OR school)

4. Use subject terms from the database

If you've tried different keywords and can't find what you need, use the subject terms provided by the database. These terms are what the database uses to categorize the subject content of resources, and can be a more effective way of looking for sources. A list of subject terms used by the database are often provided on the sidebar or top navigation bar in a database results list. 

Core History Databases

The MSU Library subscribes to a number of historical databases that are invaluable in conducting historical research. Below are some of the core history databases available through the library that provide access to scholarly articles and other secondary resources.  

Getting Full Text Articles