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Knight-Capron Library Orientation

Use this guide to learn about the library and its many research tools.

Advanced Database Searching

Now that you have some database searching basics down. We would like to introduce you to some more advanced techniques to maximize your searches. 

1 | Learn about Boolean Operators

2 | Learn how to expand your reference list with Citation Chaining

3 | Learn how to set Search Alerts to stay up to date on the latest research in your area of study

These three words (And, Or, Not) are used as connectors between your search terms. They are Boolean Operators.

"And" | Narrows the number and focus of results, and results contain sources with all search terms. For example:

  • "child obesity" and Maryland 
  • "video games" and teens

"Or" | Broadens the number and focus of results, and results contain sources with any of your search terms. It's used with synonyms and related terms. For example:

  • obesity or overweight 
  • children or juveniles

"Not" | Narrows the number and focus of results and eliminates sources containing the term after "not". For example:

  • Washington not DC (for articles about the state.)
Boolean Operators Graphic


The Scenario: You've found one or two good scholarly sources, but you need at least 5 for your assignment. 

Potential Solution: Citation chaining. You can use the works cited list in the article you already have to find related articles. Or, find out who has cited your one good article. Either option should lead you to relevant information on your topic. Read below for more detailed tips and a few tutorials. 

Citation Chaining is a technique for finding related information sources by using article networks, including bibliographies and cited by information. Citation chaining can help you trace back to the roots of important ideas or movements or start from the beginning stages and see how things grow. 

How does it work?

When you locate an article in a database that looks relevant to your research, look for links to Bibliographies (also known as Cited References) or Cited By (also known as Times Cited) information. 

Bibliographies or Cited References

  • A bibliography contains the cited references that the author(s) used when writing and researching the article. 
  • Think of bibliographies as backward articles networks.

Cited By or Times Cited

  • A Cited By page will list citations/reference that have since cited the article you found.
  • Think of Cited By lists as forward articles network. 

Created by UCMerced

Created by UCMerced

Search Alerts save valuable research time and can be set up to provide automatic e-mail notification whenever new search results become available.