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Using the library's databases is the most efficient way to find journal articles. Access the databases by using the Find Databases list or find the best databases to use by topic with the See Resources by Subject button.

Not sure where to start? Use the main search box on the library homepage to search many databases simultaneously.

Since journal articles usually have a narrow focus, narrowing your search terms to be as specific as possible is a good idea.  If you perform a search and receive too many results, your search terms are probably too broad or you are not using enough terms to retrieve a relevant result list.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for articles:

  1. Use focused search terms, ACL injuries instead of knee injuries.
  2. How search terms are joined determines the number and relevancy of results.
  3. Use databases that are subject specific.
  4. Use the limiters available in the database to focus your search.

Many databases offer the use of Boolean operators to join search terms together. While a funny sounding name, Boolean operators are important in how the database interprets your search. By knowing what they are and how they determine what results you will receive, you will be able to search more efficiently and effectively.

Boolean Operators

  • AND - Use AND when joining non-related terms together, for example heart attack AND women. Using AND tells the database to include all of the search terms in your search string and will usually reduce the number of results retrieved. Note that you do not have to use AND to join two terms in a recognizable phrase, for example, glass ceiling, intensive care, etc. Use the short video below for how to use AND effectively in database searching.

  • OR - Use OR to join terms that are closely related or synonymous, for example adolescents OR teenagers. Using OR tells the database to search for either one or both of your terms and thus will increase your result list. You will usually use OR in conjunction with an AND search; for example drug abuse AND (teenagers OR adolescents). If you receive too many results, you may be joining too many terms together with OR. Focus on the main concepts of your topic for a more effective search. View the short video below on how to use OR effectively in database searching.

  • NOT -  Use NOT to exclude a term entirely, for example Miami NOT dolphins.

In addition to using AND, OR, NOT in searching, databases also have Limiters, that can further focus your search. Limiters tell the database to retrieve results according to a certain set of criteria.  Common, useful limiters are full text, peer review, and date range. Depending on the subject specificity of the database, limiters can also determine research interest, publication type, language, geography, and more.  There are a few different ways to employ limiters:

1. Apply limiters to your search at the outset, and edit as needed.  

2. Perform an initial search, view results, then apply limiters. 

Using the first scenario as an example, type your search terms in, then move to larger box below to select your limiters. This particular search will retrieve results on capital punishment that are full text, from peer reviewed journals, and have been published since 2010.


Using the second scenario as an example, type in your search terms and click Search. Limiters are available in the left column; once you choose a limiter, your results are automatically updated.  

The limiters of individual databases vary depending on if you are in basic search mode or advanced search mode. Normally you will see more specific limiters if you choose advanced search mode.

When you need to focus your searching to a more specific topic, consider using a subject specific database.

  • The JKM Library has over 70 databases focused on specific topics
  • Instead of searching Discovery, select a database specific to your topic to search in directly to get more relevant results
  • You will get less results, but they will have more depth and breadth than using a general coverage database
  • We recommend this later on in your research

Use the "See Resources by Subject" button on the library homepage to find out which databases are best to search for your subject area.

Having trouble?

  • Keep in mind that it usually takes more than one search to obtain a well-rounded result list.
  • Research is a non-linear process that involves a lot of back and forth. Don't get discouraged! Keep trying different search terms.
  • Remember the usefulness of concept mapping and thinking about related terms and concepts that can help focus your search.
  • If you need more help with searching, Contact Us!

Depending on your discipline of study, books can play a vital role in the information gathering process. Specific types of books are important in finding background information about your topic. These include:

  • Subject specific encyclopedias
  • Bibliographies, i.e. lists of various published publications about a subject
  • Subject dictionaries

Other books that are more narrative in nature provide a broader context of specific topics that helps you gain a “big picture” perspective.

The library does not purchase textbooks, but we do have a small collection of donated textbooks available for checkout. If you are looking to find your textbooks or course materials for free through the library, be sure to search our catalog to see if we have them on our shelves. If not, use the other techniques suggested on this page to search for textbooks.

To find books in the JKM library, use the Library Catalog tab on the library homepage and enter your search terms.  Keeping your search terms simple and direct will usually yield the most relevant results. For example: women's social history, protestant reformation, climate change, autism.

Once you click on a relevant title, look at the location for the floor the book is on and record the call number. You will also want to check the status to make sure it is available before you look for it.

If you need a book that is not in the library’s collection, you can request it through EZBorrow. Type in the title of the book you need, and EZBorrow will search for it.

If the book is able to be requested, you will see a prompt to request it. You will need to login with your Chatham credentials to place the request. After requesting, your book will arrive at the Jennie King Mellon Library in 2-5 business days, and you will receive an e-mail notification when it is available for pick-up.

The JKM Library has access to a large collection of eBooks that can be searched through the eBooks tab on the homepage, individual collections or via the Discovery database.

Some titles can be downloaded and all can be read within the database.

To download eBooks, Adobe Digital Editions needs to be installed on your computer. Consult this guide for further information on viewing and downloading eBooks.

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