Answered By: APUS Librarians
Last Updated: Sep 06, 2017     Views: 3097

The APUS library's databases are more powerful than search engines like Google.  They can sort by relevance or date.  They can be limited to full text or scholarly articles only.  And they search the contents of articles and books that are not available freely to the general public.

But, library databases work a bit differently from most search engines, and so take a little practice to master.   

Here are some common research pitfalls that are easy to fix:

  • Don't enter long phrases into the search box. Instead, type just a few words -- the main concepts from your research topic. 
  • Check your spelling!  Again, databases search for exactly what you type.
  • Choose the right databaseSummon is a good place to start, but if you have a very specific topic, you might need to search a subject database.  Find recommended databases on the library research guides (click the Articles/Journals tab on your guide).
  • When you're searching for books on a very specific topic, you may need to use broader keywords.  Books tend to be written on broad subjects, though they may include chapters on specific topics.  Once you've found a book on a broader version of your topic, search inside it for information about your topic.
  • When you're searching for articles, you may need to use narrower keywords (articles typically cover narrow topics).
  • Ask a librarian for help.  Research strategy is what we know best.  Submit your questions via our contact form.

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