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MGT340 Research Skills Guide: theory & scholarly information

Why Should You Use Databases?

Within databases you can find the scholarly literature that provides the theory and evidence to support your analysis and justifications. Library databases:

  • Are the best source of academic or scholarly information for your assessments
  • help you locate peer reviewed articles
  • Are subject specific, so that you get more relevant results
  • Have many options for refining results

You can find the Library's databases on the A-Z Databases page. Databases are grouped into subject areas.

Visit the Business Journal Databases listing for all potentially useful databases in your area. Note that you don't have to use every database for every assignment - but nor should you restrict your search to one database only.

Don't forget, you can also use Primo Search and Google Scholar to locate journal articles.

Topic analysis

Start thinking about what terms you will use when searching for information. To do this:

  • Identify the key concepts of your topic (watch the topic analysis video for assistance); and then
  • Brainstorm as many synonyms and similar terms/phrases as you can.

This is a useful exercise because the language used to describe your topic may vary from source to source, and you don't want to miss out on a good source because it uses a different term to the one you are searching on.

Subject specific dictionaries and encyclopedias can help to define terms and find related terms see the Management and Marketing Guides for links to resources.

Common Search Tips

There are a number of techniques you can use while searching to get better and more relevant results.

Basic and advanced search

Basic search usually involves one search box, with a few options about searching a specific collection or field. This is great for general searching. When you have multiple keywords or complex search queries, using Advanced search can be helpful. This usually involves several different boxes for your different keywords, built-in search operators, and more options for field searching and limiters.

Most databases will have a link to Advanced Search next to their Basic search option. Advanced Search in Google Scholar is accessible from the menu.

Search operators

Use these with your keywords to refine your searches and specify exactly what you want to find. These are most useful in journal databases and Primo Search. (Some of them won't work as well in Google Scholar.)

Search Operator Example
Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms. cross-culture AND management
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. leadership OR management
Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results. sustainability NOT environment
Group terms or equivalent keywords with parentheses to create complex searches. (leadership OR management) AND cross-culture
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase "corporate social sustainability"
Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk. manage* = manage, manager, managers, management, managing...
A question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word. analy?e = analyse, analyze

Field searching and limiters

Most databases will allow you to specify which field you want to search. Common fields include author, title, dates, and subject headings/topic, and these are usually available in both basic and advanced search. 

Once you've searched, you can also limit your results by some of these fields. This is extremely useful if you want all of your articles to have been published within a certain date range, or for them all to be peer-reviewed. Look for these in the menus beside your search results. 

Get better search results

Searching in a database

Proximity Searching

A proximity search forces a database to find results where one search term appears within a certain number of words of another search term. The proximity operator varies according to the database. 

Examples from an EBSCOhost database:  

employability N3 higher education  (N=near) This will find results where employability is within 3 words of higher education in any order

employability W3 higher education (W=within) This will find results where employability is within 3 words of higher education  in the order in which you entered the search terms

Want to learn more about journal databases?

  • The Library holds a series of Online Library Workshops, some of these focus on journal database searching. 
  • We also have a Databases Help guide that contains a wealth of information on using journal databases. 

Peer Review