Searching Databases

It is time to put those keywords and search strategies to work!  The NUS Libraries subscribe to hundreds of general and discipline-specific resources to help you identify books, articles and more related to your research topic.

To Find Journal Articles

For basic research papers, such as papers for your first semester Common Curriculum courses, try Academic OneFile. An excellent general database for upper-division courses is Web of Knowledge.

For more in-depth research papers requiring critical secondary sources, studies that use specific research methods or other upper-division course needs, use databases specific to your course or major such as PsycINFOBIOSIS previewsHistorical Abstracts, and so on. You can find lists of appropriate databases through the Yale-NUS Library’s Subject Guides (for a list of all NUS guides, click here).  These pages are created by librarians at Yale-NUS and the other NUS Librarian to help you identify the best databases for your subject of interest.  Still having difficulty identifying a good database? Ask A Librarian!

To Find Books/Anthologies/E-Books

There are 3 ways to find appropriate books.

1. Use LINC, the Libraries’ traditional library catalogue, to find books, journal titles, books on reserve, etc.  – basically everything NUS Libraries own.  Both print and electronic materials are listed in LINC.

2. FindMore@NUSL goes one step further, allowing you to search for books and e-books, as well as journal articles, newspaper articles and more.  The results can sometimes be overwhelming, so use the filters on the left-hand side to limit your results.  E-books can be found when the lists are sorted by format.

3. Use WorldCat to find items beyond NUS.  If you need a book or chapter from a book that we don’t own, you can request it through our Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery Service. 

Tip: To find an anthology, enter your search and append AND “edited by” to the search

Common Search Tips

Though databases look different, they generally work the same. Besides Keyword searches (which are automatic), you can also search by a specific author, title, and so on. The following are some of the common features available in most databases:

Boolean Operators or Truncation

Does the database include an AND in the search boxes? Do you need to type it in yourself?

Remember to “Truncate” a word, especially when you’re uncertain how an author may use it.  For example, search Strateg* to find the many uses of the word including: Strategic, Strategies, Strategy.

Help with Subject Terminology

As soon as you begin finding relevant articles, take a look at the “subject headings” or “descriptors” that the database provides. These words or phrases are the key to using the right vocabulary to use to find the most relevant articles

Is it Peer Reviewed?

Does the database let mark your preference for peer-reviewed articles on the search page? Are you able to sort the results after you have run your search for peer reviewed articles? Other words that refer to peer-reviewed includes Refereed, Academic or Scholarly.

Email, Save, Request, Write

What should you be doing? Well, many things at one time. In no particular order:

Email the citation information for each article. The info will come in handy when you write your bibliography. If you’re able to download the full text, email it as an attachment to your email account.

Save the citations of the articles you like best as you find them in the database. It’s easy to lose track of sources you assumed you’d be able to find later.  If you have a lot of research to do, using a citation manager can help you organize all your research as you go.  Tip: Citation managers also help you format bibliographies!

Request an article as soon as you determine it is not downloadable from the database or NUS does not subscribe to it.  Use the Libraries’ Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery Service to make the request!

Write down the keywords you are using and any new subject headings. Also, write down the citation information as you find it. If you intend to continue your search later, also write down the name of the database you are using.

To Download the Article

You will be prompted to authenticate yourself when you try to access databases or articles to which the Libraries subscribe.  Just make sure you begin your searching on the NUS Libraries Portal.  To learn more about the EZ Proxy, visit this page.

If you find an article on the internet (through Google Scholar, for instance), you may be prompted to pay for articles.  Whenever you hit a paywall, try using the NUS Proxy bookmarklet.  This will automatically determine if we have an electronic subscription through NUS Libraries.  If you’re still in doubt, try searching the title of the book or journal in LINC.

To Find the Book on the shelf

For NUS-only books:

    • When you find the right book, write down the library location, for example, Central Library or Yale-NUS Reading Room, and the call number. The NUS Libraries use the Library of Congress Call Number system.
    • If the book you need is checked out to someone else, you can place a hold using LINC.  (You will need your Library Pin number to do this.)
    • If the book you need is listed as being in Closed Stacked, request it using LINC. (You will need your Library Pin number to do this.)

For non-NUS books, when you find an item directly in WorldCat that is not at the NUS Libraries, you can request it using Interlibrary Loan.

Creative Commons Licence Starting Your Research by University of California Santa Cruz, University Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.  Some content has been modified to suit the curricular and research needs of Yale-NUS College.  All changes are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.