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Michigan State University

LB 133: Finding Scholarly Resources through the Library: Using Databases

New Library Website: Fall 2023

If you have the title for an article or book, you can copy and paste it into the search box on the library homepage. You can choose to search all types of sources at once, or you can use the dropdown menu or links to look for books and media, articles, databases, research and course guides, course reserves, or journals and newspapers separately. If you already know that you need an article or a book, click on one of the links or use the dropdown menu to search for that particular thing. If you already have a title or author's name, you can type that in. You can also type in keywords and see what the library has on your topic.

For step by step instructions on how to search the library, see the tutorial videos below the screenshot.

screenshot of general search on library homepage.

Finding Scholarly Articles

Library Searches

Finding Newspapers

Lyman Briggs Librarian

Profile Photo
Chana Kraus-Friedberg
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing, MI 48824
Subjects: Medicine, Public Health

Extreme Cases: Retractions

Sometimes (very infrequently) a scholarly journal or researcher will retract an article, meaning that the article becomes unpublished. It happens when the article is deeply misleading, the research is discovered to be fake, or it's so badly done that the journal no longer wants to be associated with it. Sometimes databases will still store the article, but mark it "retracted." Other databases may remove it completely, so that you can't find it. Retraction Watch Database is a search engine where you can search for retractions. The results will also tell you why the article was retracted. The Retraction Watch organization website also tracks different kinds of scientific misdemeanors.


Tips for Using Search Fields in Databases

You'll make your search faster and more accurate if you use the dropdown menu next to the search box to tell the database which fields to search. (If you don't see the dropdown menu on the first screen, look for a link that says something like "Advanced" or "Advanced search." The advanced search function will always have it.)

For example, if I tell the General Science database to search for "stein, gertrude" only in the personal author field of the article, I'll only see articles she wrote. screenshot advanced search general science full text database. dropdown menu on right of search box lists select a field (optional), TX All text fields, TI title, AU Author personal, CA author corporate, PD Physical description, SU subject. Green button to right of dropdown menu says "search." Create alert link below green search button.

Otherwise, I may also get articles written about Gertrude Stein, or even just articles that cite her in their bibliographies. If I am looking for articles she wrote, using the author field will save me from having to wade through all those extra results.

Note: This feature appears in Advanced Search for all databases, but it also appears on the library website if you select one of the source types in the dropdown menu or click on "See more" in the results page.

Tips for Searching Databases with Keywords

  • Combine two different topics with AND (always capitalize).
  • Put phrases in quotes (for example, "breast cancer").
  • If you're getting a lot of irrelevant material, see if you can make your terms more specific.
  • Click on the "Get it at MSU" button or the PDF link to get full text.
  • Use filters on the left side of the screen to limit your search. Usually there's a date filter that you can use to only see results for the last 5 years.

Using Filters

Once you've done a search in a database, look on the left side of the results page. You'll always see a list of filters that will help you narrow your results further. This example is from the General Science database. You can limit your results to only peer review articles and only articles published between specific years.

screenshot of database filters. Limit to full text, peer reviewed, PDF full text, catalog only. Publication date from 1985 to 2023.