Research: A Quick Start Guide

This guide will help you find resources and organize your research

A narrow search is like seeing a painting too close up...

A close up of a painting just brushstrokes

You miss all the context!

full painting showing boat on the water

Starting your search

Beginning your search with the library's OneSearch (i.e. it searches everything at once) with two of your keywords is a good way to get started. It's often best to start simple and cast a wider net so you don't miss out on a good resource because you started with a super specific search! 

For example, if you're interested in how schooners were built in the 1800's in Bath, Maine, you might first search "wooden shipbuilding AND Maine." You can always add the time period, type of ship, and more specific location into your search later. 

Do you shop online? 

Then you probably already know how to use filters (also known as limiters) to refine your search results! 

You've typed your search into the OneSearch and you're looking at your results page: 

On the left-hand side of your search results page, you'll see a bunch of filter options. If you need peer-reviewed articles, you can click the box next to "Peer-Reviewed" and you will only see peer-reviewed articles in your results. If you need resources published in the last 5 years, click the "5 Years" box under "Publication Date" and so on!

a screenshot of a search results page showing the filtering options on the left-hand side.


"I want the book, not the book review!" 

If you are seeing too much of one type of source, you can also exclude things from your search by using the "exclude" option to the left of the term:

the "exclude" button is on the left-hand side of the screen, to the left of each content type

AND/OR, What?

Using "AND," "OR," can either broaden or narrow your search. 

Connecting one term to another, such as "lobster industry" AND "Maine" means that instead of searching for anything on the lobster industry, or anything that mentions Maine, you're only searching sources that discuss both of these things.

Using "OR" broadens your search. This is often helpful when you're researching a topic that has different terms with similar meanings. For example, if you're interested in work conditions in the lobster industry, you could search for "work conditions" OR "labor conditions." This way, your search will return resources that use either "work conditions" or "labor conditions" as terms. 

concentric circles showing how terms intersect when using and, and cover more of a topic when using or.

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