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Library Orientation for Online Students

Search Strategies for Finding the Information You Need

Learn By Doing: Interactive Tutorials

Use these interactive tutorials to practice finding information on your topic using a database.

PDF vs. Get Full Text

When you're looking at search results in a database you're going to see a few different ways to get to the full article, usually either...


Both of these will take you to the article!


Clicking on the Get Full Text (MCPHS) button will open a new window to take you directly to the full article, or if the Libraries don't have a copy you can immediately request one through Interlibrary Loan. Hint: if you get a yellow bar at the top of your screen prompting you to click it, click it!

Connect Google Scholar and the Library

Connect Google Scholar and the MCPHS Libraries to get to the full-text articles you find. Don't skip or pay for articles - check the Library first!


Set Up Google Scholar & MCPHS Libraries:

  1. Click on Settings in the Google Scholar menu - usually in the top left or right corner.
  2. Choose Library Links on the left, search for MCPHS.
  3. Select MCPHS - Get Full Text (MCPHS) from the list of results.
  4. Click the blue Save button.
  5. That's it!

Next time you're searching, look for the Get Full Text (MCPHS) link next to each search result.

Don't see it? Click on more underneath the result. 

What Information Is Where?

Type of Resources

It is...

eResource Any electronic research material: online journal articles, ebooks, websites, etc.
Database A searchable collection of articles and other academic writings available through the Libraries. You'll find these on the Articles & Databases sections of Research Guides.
Catalog Where you can search for locations of books, videos, and links to eResources.
Research Guide A small website organized by a Librarian around a subject, course or topic so that it's easy to find the print and eResources for it. (For example, this is a Research Guide!)
Library Website The digital front door to the MCPHS Libraries; your access point for all our services and resources.
Smart Search The main search box on the Library's homepage. It's a single search option that allows users to search nearly all of our online content, including our catalog, online journal holdings, and the great majority of our databases.

Where do I find What?

I'm Looking for... Try this Type of Source...
Background information An reference source through the Library, like Britannica.
A scholarly article MCPHS Smart Search, or one of the Library's subject specific databases.
A deep-dive on a topic A book written by an expert in the field.
Quick information about a specific drug, disease or treatment.  A point-of-care resource like Micromedex, Lexicomp or DynaMed

Search Strategies: Librarian Tips

Keywords are...

  • A good way to start a search.
  • The important concepts in your own words.
  • Found anywhere in the article (title, author, subject terms, etc.).
  • Very flexible.

Limit to Peer-Reviewed or Scholarly articles...

  • This is part of the publication & editorial process for academic and research journals.  
  • Being peer-reviewed is a sign that a paper's author(s) have done a certain level of due diligence in their work and their research is complete, manages conflicts-of-interest, and is fair and objective.

Narrow the Date Range...

  • When looking for Current Research or Evidence-Based Practices limit your date range to the last 3-5 years.

Search Strategies: Boolean Operators

Boolean Connector Purpose


Connects different concepts (keywords).

Narrows down the number of results.


Connects synonyms.

Expands the number of results.


Excludes a concept.

Use with extreme caution (even librarians don't use this one much).

Search Strategies: Make the Database Work More


...uses the asterisk (*) to end a word at its core, allowing you to retrieve many more documents containing variations of the search term.  Truncation can also be used to find the singular and plural forms of a term.  Example: educat* will find educate, educates, education, educators, educating and more.

Phrase Searching when you put quotations marks around two or more words, so that the database looks for those words in that exact order. Examples: "higher education," "public health" and "pharmaceutical industry."


Citation Chasing

... is when you read the reference list of an article to find potential additional sources for your own research AND when you use a citation database (eg Scopus, Google Scholar) to find more recent publications that have cited the article you're already using. 


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