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Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 3
USING THE SEARCH TOOLS
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As previously discussed, locating research materials can involve using various search tools depending on your information need (e.g. library catalogs & databases, Internet search tools, and periodical indexes & abstracts) and often requires searching both online and print resources.

The following sections outline the steps often followed when using online and print search tools. Other units offer more detailed instructions for using specific search tools like library catalogs (Unit 5) and databases (Unit 6).


image of computer ONLINE SEARCH TOOLS:
Databases
Internet Search Tools
Online Library Catalogs

Follow these steps when using online search tools to locate research materials:
•  Choose the online search tool that best matches your information need (e.g. the library catalog to locate books, databases to locate articles, etc.)
•  Read the online help files available in most online search tools to better understand how to use each search tool.
•  Try your preliminary search terms in the search tool. (See Unit 4 for information about choosing search terms.)
•  Refine searches to improve their effectiveness using tips from Unit 4.
•  Locate the desired information:
-- access online full text articles (see Unit 7),
-- use the information in catalog records (see Unit 5), or
-- use the citation information (see Unit 6).
•  Use library services to obtain the item if it is not available in the library (see Unit 9).
•  Evaluate the information (see Unit 8).

image of magnifying glass PRINT SEARCH TOOLS:
Periodical Abstracts
Periodical Indexes
Subject Bibliographies

Follow these steps when using periodical abstracts and indexes to locate research materials:
•  Choose a tool relevant to your subject (e.g. Business Periodicals Index offers citations for articles about business topics, while Education Index has citations for articles about education).
•  Read the search tool's introduction or preface material.
•  Scan for possible search terms in the alphabetical headings lists.
•  Locate citations to articles beneath appropriate headings.
•  Look in the front of the index or abstract to find a journal's full title if journal titles are abbreviated in the citations.
•  Locate the article using the citation information (see Unit 6).
•  Use library services to obtain the item if it is not available in the library (see Unit 9).
•  Evaluate the information (see Unit 8).

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Library Orientation Site Index
Updated 7/2004