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*Research and Writing: Integrated Skills & Strategies*

Welcome! This guide will help you develop your research and writing skills by providing foundational knowledge of the iterative research and writing process as well as manageable steps for breaking down and navigating college research projects.

Still Struggling?

Conversing with someone else about your research and writing process can be incredibly helpful.  Contact staff at McKillop Library or the Writing Center using the links below.

Finding the Right Database

To find articles at the library, you need to use databases.  Databases are organized collections of resources (articles, ebooks, music, videos, images, datasets, etc.) that are structured to make the information accessible to users.  Databases can be interdisciplinary, containing resources on many subjects and fields of study, or they can be subject-specific with resources that are especially useful for particular disciplines.  Unlike the library catalog, databases are created and maintained by different companies and organizations.  Because of this, databases do not always look the same or operate similarly.  Whenever you use a new database, try to take an initial five minutes to explore the database and its features.  Remember that you can always contact a librarian if you have questions!

To access the library databases available at McKillop Library, see the A-Z Databases list for an alphabetical listing of over 140 databases available to the Salve community.  

To view databases by subject, simply navigate to the "All Subjects" pull-menu.  See below.


A-Z Databases list screenshot


If you are accessing the databases from off-campus, you will be prompted to login using your Salve email username and password.  Click here for more information about accessing library resources off-campus.

Basic and Advanced Searching in the Databases

Basic Searching

The most basic way to begin searching for articles is to place your search statement (see Creating Search Statements) in the first box.  If you were interested in exploring how attitudes towards tattoos have evolved in America, you could start out by search "tattoo AND America." 

basic search in Academic Search Complete example

Advanced Searching

In addition to basic searching, you can also use advanced search features to create a more precise search.  You can use different Boolean operators to build your search string.  You can also utilize the "Select a Field" option to search by a range of fields including author, title, and journal name.

advanced search in databases screenshot



*Note: All pictured examples of database searching on this page are from Academic Search Complete, an interdisciplinary database that is managed by EBSCOhost.  Other databases will likely have similar features, but they will look a little different.

Limiting Results

Once you initiate a search, you may have more results than you are able to examine.  At this point, look for the databases limiting features.  These are usually provided on the left toolbar, although occasionally they are provided elsewhere.  These features tend to be the most common across databases:

  • Full text: Select this feature to limit your results to articles that are available in the full text.
  • Publication date: Use this feature to limit your results to those published within a specific time frame.  This is especially useful if you need current information for your research.
  • Scholarly/Peer-reviewed: Select this feature to limit your results to academic journals that are peer-reviewed.  While this option can be helpful, it does sometimes have glitches and errors.  You may want to analyze the article yourself to ensure that it is scholarly and to verify that the journal is peer-reviewed by exploring the homepage for the journal.
  • Source/Document type: Use this feature to limit your results to specific format like journal, book, magazine, book review, or newspaper.

Finding Relevant Subject Terms

Like the library catalog, many databases will provide subject terms for specific resources.  These may be referred to under different terminology, including subjects, subject thesaurus terms, or thesaurus terms.  Subject terms are standardized words or phrases that describe the main idea of the source you are looking at.  These terms are hyperlinked in databases, so you can select them to have the database generate a new result list with other resources that share the same subject term.  Subject terms will vary from one database to another.  Likewise, they will probably be different from the subject terms in the library catalog.  As with your keywords, you should note any especially helpful subject terms as you conduct your research (as well as which database or search tool you found them in!).  

articles subject terms screenshot