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INF 110: Introduction to Research Essentials

This guide expands on the topics you've explored in INF 110: Introduction to Research Essentials.

Where Can We Find Sources?

Some sources are self-explanatory. If you're interested in what people are posting on Twitter about a certain subject, you might open up the Twitter app on your phone and search for a related hashtag, word, or phrase. If you want to see if there is a Wikipedia article on a topic, most likely you will search for the topic in Google or another Internet search engine and Wikipedia will be either the top result or close to it.

But other sources aren't as straight forward. We can we go to find items like magazines, newspapers, or trade journals? What about academic journals or books? Are we only supposed to use the library's databases, or can browsing Google actually be useful?

Google & Google Scholar Demonstrations

Academic Databases

When you first go to the library website, the search box that you see on the home page takes you to MCPHS SmartSearch (see more on that below). To find the rest of the library's databases, click the link that says A-Z Databases. That will take you to a list of the 200+ databases that the library has access to. While some of the databases will find you articles or information on a wide variety of topics, some are very specialized and concentrate on specific subjects like drug information or human anatomy videos. To see what databases the library offers on particular topics, you may click on the All Subjects drop down menu at the top of the screen and try clicking on different options.

Library homepage

A through Z list of databases.

What is MCPHS Smart Search?

MCPHS Smart Search allows you to search across the Library's collections and includes:

  • Books, ebooks, videos and streaming media in the MCPHS collection.
  • Research databases and Journal Collections like Academic Index, CINAHL, Scopus, ScienceDirect and more.
  • Legal, government and company information

 

What am I searching?

*A relatively small amount of content that the MCPHS Library has access to is not discoverable through Smart Search.
 

Smart Search Demonstrations

Search Strategy Suggestions: Boolean

Boolean Connector Purpose

AND

Connects different concepts (keywords).

Narrows down the number of results.

OR

Connects synonyms.

Expands the number of results.

NOT

Excludes a concept.

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

Search Strategies: Boolean Examples

These are some examples of how each type of Boolean operator looks when used with keywords:

OR: Connects Similar Concepts 

It expands the number of results on the topic.

Examples Topics of Interest  Search terms connected by OR
College Students college OR university OR higher education OR undergraduate OR post secondary
Racism racism OR racial bias OR prejudice OR systemic racism OR racist
online courses online education OR online learning OR online teaching 
learning communities community OR engagement OR connection OR presence

 

AND: Connects Different Concepts

It narrows down the number of results.

Example Topics of Interest Search terms connected by AND
College students experiences of racism.

college OR university OR higher education OR undergraduate OR post secondary

AND

racism OR racial bias OR prejudice OR systemic racism OR racist

The role of engagement in successful online courses.

community OR engagement OR connection OR presence

AND

online education OR online learning OR online teaching 

 

NOT: Excludes a Concept 

Use with extreme caution.

Example Topic of Interest Search terms connected by NOT
Quitting tobacco, but just smokeless tobacco (eg vaping). Tobacco cessation NOT smoking
Cloning, but excluding sheep. Cloning NOT sheep

 

Search Strategy Suggestions: Make the Database Work More

Truncation

...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

...is 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. 

 

How To Read a Call Number

Here at MCPHS, we use Library of Congress call numbers to organize our print books. A call number is a combination of letters and numbers that acts like an address to finding things on the shelves. Read call numbers from left to right, and top to bottom.

This chart will help you decode them a bit more. If you still have questions please contact the Reference Desk!

The first set of letters is alphabetical.

H
45
.B62
1990

HA
126
.F99
K9
1987

HB
12
.I90
1975

HC
13
.C55

The following set of numbers is in numerical order.

B
45
.H432
1980

B
427
.K77
1967

B
1200
.P95
A66
1990

B
1231
.C33
I7
1981

The following letters (after the decimal point) are alphabetical.

KF
456
.A43
E45
1993

KF
456
.B99
1990

KF
456
.K99
1987

KF
456
.L70
1990

The following numbers are in decimal order.

Note that .C263 comes between .C26 and .C27.

L
901
.C25
1977

L
901
.C26
1993

L
901
.C263
1988

L
901
.C27
1976

There may be another line of letters and numbers.

These will be in alphabetical and decimal order

PS
3553
.A4
A15
1977

PS
3553
.A4
M29

PS
3553
.A4
M9
v.5

PS
3553
.A4
Z41
1980

A publication date may follow.

In order by date or “nothing before something”

B1200
.P95
A65
1990

B1200
.P95
A65
2001

B1200
.P95
A87

B1200
.P95
A87
1966

A copy or volume number may follow.

B1200
.P95
A65
c.1

B1200
.P95
A65
c.2

B1200
.P95
A87
1966
v.1

B1200
.P95
A87
1966
v.2

If the Library Doesn't Have What You Need: Interlibrary Loan!

If you come across an article or book that is not in our collections, you can still get it! Just use Interlibrary Loan to request that we get you a copy of it. We'll borrow it from another library, and get it to you (usually an electronic copy) in a few business days.

It will automatically be an option in most databases, or you can fill out the form: InterLibrary Loan

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