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How to Use EBSCO Academic Search Complete

Get the basics, how to cite, how to link to articles and more.

1. Scan the Result List

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Once you've run a search the first thing you'll do is check to see if any of the articles look like they'll work for your assignment. Here are some key features to focus on to scan more quickly. 

  1. Date Published
    Check the date the article was published when your assignment requires a time range like no older that 5 years OR when your topic is time sensitive like technology that changes rapidly.
  2. Length of Article
    Check the date the article was published when your assignment requires a minimum length. It can also be helpful to note if the article is less than a page as it provably won't have enough useful information, or if the article is very long (such as 50 pages) and you prefer to find a shorter one.
  3. Title of Article
    You can frequently tell from teh title of an article if it is relevant or not. 
  4. Article Folder
    The blue folder icon to the left of the article is not information you'd scan, but it can save time. By clicking the folder icon you are saving the articles from the result list that are the most relevant to your research. When you think you have a good number find the Folder in the EBSCO toolbar at the top of the page to see all the articles that you saved. 
  5. Abstract
    Every article on your result list has an abstract or summary. Frequently you can tell from teh abstract if the article is relevant to your research or not. 
  6. Article Subjects
    Article subjects can be useful to determine if the article is relevant. The subjects can also be very useful if you are only finding a few relevant articles. If that's the case, see what subjects were used for the good articles. These are new terms you can try searching on to get more articles like them. 

Get Scholarly & Peer Reviewed Journals

TipYou probably won't have to use this option for all of your research projects, but if your instructor requires that you use academic, scholarly or peer reviewed journals, this is the easiest way to get them:

  1. Perform a search.
  2. Select Search Options from the Limit your results column, Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals box. All your results will now be from scholarly/peer reviewed journals. These steps will also work in most EBSCOhost databases, but Academic Search Complete has the most scholarly journals on the most subjects.

Get Help from COM Library on the Result List

If you'd like help while you're searching you can start a chat with COM Library right from the result list during library hours

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2. Refine and Limit Your Results

Search results are seldom perfect. After your first scan you'll start to notice some issues with your results‚ÄčThe truth is most academic reach requires series of steps to get the right articles. Once you know the tricks it's pretty fast. 

  1. Quick Limits
    Frequently there will be too many results to look through. Options include limiting to articles with references available, limiting by publication date and limiting to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals.  Just select the option you want and update results.
  2. Subject Thesaurus Term or Subject Options
    Some articles on your result list will be relevant and some won't. The best way to solve this problem is to us the Subject Thesaurus Term or Subject options. Click on the small arrow to the right of each to open them up and see a brief list of subjects. You can see all by selecting Show More. Scan through both tto see where the closet subject to your topic is listed and select it. Your search should have fewer articles but they should be more relevant so you don;t have to hunt for them. 
  3. Use the Date Newest Relevance pull down menu
    You can use Relevance (how closely it matches your search) pull down menu above your result list (see by watch, below) to re-sort your result list by author, source (periodical or other resource in which the article was published) or date. Depending on your topic, sorting by relevance combined with the date limit can really save you some time in your search. By default, EBSCO sorts the articles by date, putting the most recent articles at the top of the list.

Those are the top limits to try, but the others available may also be useful at times. You can apply as many limits as you want to any search. Occasionally this will result in no articles. In that case try deselecting some of the limits until you retrieve results. It may be that for some reason there are no full text articles on your topic. Or, you may want to re-think the terms you entered in the search box. Try using different terms to describe your topic. See search techniques that can be used in any database.

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All the Limits

Narrowing down your results can save you time. These options are available from the right hand column of your result page:

  • Source types
    Use when you want just academic journal articles or one of the other source types.
  • Publication
    Use to narrow down to a specific journal retrieved by your search.
  • Author
    Use to narrow down to a specific author retrieved by your search.
  • Subject: Thesaurus Term
    Use to narrow to a specific subject thesaurus term retrieved by your search. Sort of like subject, but more specific—can be the most effective to narrowing down to your real topic.
  • Subject
    Use to narrow down to a subject retrieved by your search; selecting an appropriate subject one can get you closer to what you really want for your paper.
  • NAICS/Industry
    Use to narrow down to a specific industry retrieved by your results.
  • Company
    Use to narrow down to a specific company retrieved by your search
  • Publication Type
    Use to narrow down to one of the publication types retrieved by your search.
  • Geography
    Use to narrow down to a specific location retrieved by your search, such as United States or Texas.