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MKT501 - Research Skills Guide: Find academic resources

Why Should You Use Journal Databases?

Within databases you can find the scholarly literature that provides the theory and evidence to support the decisions and recommendations made within your assessments.

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.

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. CSR AND theory
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. sustainability OR corporate social responsibility
Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results. marketing NOT advertising
Combine terms with parentheses to create complex searches. (company OR corporation) AND CSR
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase "corporate social responsibility"
Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk. sustain* = sustain, sustainable, sustainability, sustaining
A question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word. organi?ation = organisation, organization

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.

Searching in a database

Try it now

Log into Business Source Complete database and try typing in  – "corporate sustainability" AND theory.

  • Did you get less results than Primo Search and Google Scholar? Being a Business database, they should be more relevant to your topic.
  • Look at the HTML and PDF links to access the full text of the article.
  • If you cannot find the full text click on the Find it button to check if the article is available elsewhere.
  • Use the subject headings to locate related articles or to give you ideas for keywords to search.
  • Limit by publication date range so you only receive information published in the last 3 years.
  • Limit to peer reviewed or academic journals
  • Try your search again using abstract or title search in the Select a Field dropdown menu.

You can learn more about the Library's databases by taking a look at the Database Help Library Guide.

Proximity Searching

In some databases, you can use a proximity operator to specify that your search terms must be close to – that is, within a certain number of words of – each other. This is narrower than a phrase-search, and broader than a keyword search.

The proximity operator is usually a letter or word, followed by a number. You can specify the number, and it will determine the number of words between your two search terms. The higher the number, the more results you will get, and the less relevant they might be.

For example in the database EBSCOhost, the following search string (CSR AND company) N3 theory will search for records that include the words CSR and company within three words of the word theory.

Proximity operators in the major database platforms:

  • EBSCOhost          Nn
  • ProQuest             NEAR/n
  • Informit               %         [and you must have All terms selected]

where n is the number you nominate.

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