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MBA Library Orientation Guide (2020/2021)

General library guide provided to incoming MBA students on August 19, 2020.

How to Search Literature Databases

Databases like Business Source Complete, ABI/INFORM, Factiva, and Nexis Uni allow you to search for articles from magazines, journals, newspaper and more. They are sometimes called literature databases or aggregators. They provide powerful search mechanisms, but do not work like Google, so you have to approach them in the right way. Here are tips to help you get the most out of these useful resources.


Brainstorm search terms.

What are you trying to learn about? How might authors refer to that?

You can search for articles about "cats," but if an article only refers to them as "kitties" or "felines," you will miss those articles, even though they are about your topic. Think of as many synonyms and related terms as you can. You might not need them all, but it's good to be prepared.

Don't search by asking a question, search using concepts..

If you want to know how package design affects consumers' buying patterns,

DON'T type   How does package design affect consumers' buying patterns?

DO type   "package design" AND consumer AND purchase

Use filters to narrow your results..
Databases like Business Source Complete, ABI/INFORM and Nexis Uni let you refine your search results by limiting to a certain period of time, type of publication, language, and more. This keeps you from having to dig through things that are too old to be useful, not in a language you can read, etc.
Look beyond the first page of results..
The database doesn't know what you're trying to do, so don't believe it when it says the results are sorted by relevance. The things you're looking for may be on the 4th or 5th page of results (or beyond) and it's worth the extra couple of minutes to check: Fast isn't always efficient.
Search in the right place..
There are generalist databases, like Academic Search Premier and JSTOR, that have a little bit of everything, and discipline-specific databases that only deal with business (or psychology or education ...) If you need in-depth business information, a business-focused database is best.
Use AND, OR, NOT and quotation marks to make your search more precise..
  • Use AND between concepts to make sure all the concepts are included in your search.
  • Use OR between synonyms to search for all the variations on that concepts. (Put parentheses around groups of synonyms as shown below.)
  • Use NOT to ban articles that contain a specific word.
  • Use quotes for concepts that are denoted by more than one word: "tax law" "child labor" "United States."

Download a version of these tips here: