Below you'll find a table summarizing some of the different ways you can go about finding books, journals, magazines, newspapers, maps, and other physical and electronic resources, and when to use them.
|Method||What's there||Why use it|
|IUCAT||Books, journals, maps, etc. already at IU (both physical copies and e-resources)||Covers most topics, materials often immediately available|
|Worldcat||Books, journals, maps, etc. that may or may not be at IU||Covers all topics, can find material regardless whether IU happens to own it|
|Interlibrary Loan||Use this service to order materials that are unavailable at IU (either because IU doesn't own it or it is checked out)||Use alongside Worldcat or when you don't find a book, journal, etc. in IUCAT|
|Google Books||Books and journals that Google has scanned from many Library collections. Many items are available only in preview or snippet view.||Ideal for journals and books in the public domain (usually published before 1923). Preview can help locate particularly useful sections.|
|Hathitrust||Scanned books and journals, often the same materials as Google Books||Navigation is often more cumbersome than Google Books, but locating specific journal issues is often easier|
OneSearch is sort of like Google for libraries. It searches within the hundreds of individual databases that IU Libraries subscribes to all at once. It primarily searches for articles.
This video tutorial shows how to access OneSearch and search effectively using filters including the use of the Peer-Review limiter.
A keyword expresses a central concept or idea about a topic. When you search Google, you are keyword searching.
When searching library resources like databases, be more selective with keywords. Begin with a small number of terms, and avoid long phrases.
1. Major concepts: Identify major concepts of your topic.
Example topic: the environmental consequences of fracking
2. Related terms: Develop keywords related to the major concepts of your topic.
Concept 1: Fracking
Concept 2: Environmental consequences
Natural gas drilling
Note: Databases can be picky about search terms. Identify synonyms for your concepts, and consider the words likely used in the database.
3. Background research: To identify useful keywords, do some quick background research. Note terms that are often used to discuss the topic.
(Reference sources like Wikipedia or the library databases Encyclopaedia Britannica and Credo Reference offer overviews of many topics. Of course, remember to evaluate information in Wikipedia with particular care.)
4. Database search results: Do a quick database search and view the search results page to identify relevant terms.
Effective Keyword Searching
1. Be concise: Begin with only 2-3 terms, and avoid long phrases. The more terms you enter the fewer results you’ll get.
Keyword Search Examples:
2. Use synonyms and related terms: If your first term doesn’t work, try a synonym. You may have to try out several related search terms to find the types of resources you're looking for.
(Example: environment INSTEAD OF environmental consequences)
Most library databases use Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT).
Use them to narrow or broaden search results.
Example: Iran AND China AND (energy OR petroleum OR oil)
Adapted from SAIS Library, Johns Hopkins Univ. "Database Search Tips" Guide (no longer extant).
If you are having trouble finding a variety of resources that meet your search criteria or research needs, you can still expand your search even if you are able to just find one article that aligns with your inquiry. Once you've found a resource that is relevant, try looking at the authors and publications cited in its References, Works Cited, or Bibliography section, and follow these to other sources that might be helpful for your research. Additionally, you can, using Google Scholar or other databases, see who has cited the resource, which can help you identify other publications that may support your research.
Sometimes, scholarship does not go on to become a scholarly text (such as an article or book). Consider consulting alternative academic sources, such as conference proceedings, seminars, abstracts, and theses and dissertations, which will allow you to find not only relevant scholarly work within the field that may align with your own research, but also will in many cases be more current than traditionally published sources. Keep in mind, however, that these sources often do not undergo the same level of review, despite still being relevant and useful.
Many of the collections are searchable through Archives Online. Enter your search term in the box, and choose "University Archives, IU Bloomington" before clicking the search button. Once you select a collection to view, click on "Entire Document" on the left of the screen to view the entire inventory of the collection.
This is called a "finding aid" because it aids you in finding what you need in the collection. The "Title" of the collection and the "Collection No."are listed in the first portion of the finding aid. The "Collection No." is what you use to request a collection, along with the specific box numbers. Make sure to use the finding aid to help you locate which boxes have materials of interest. Read more on requesting materials below.
Helpful online tutorials that provide more detailed information on searching and accessing our collections are listed below: