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Using the Library's Databases

Searching EBSCO Databases

When you enter an EBSCO database, you'll automatically be in the Advanced Search area where you have multiple fields to enter search terms:

screenshot of EBSCO Advanced Search area

You can begin entering your search terms in the search boxes available.

This example will use the phrase "social media." You can see that there are quotation marks ( " ) around this phrase, and this is to ensure that these words are searched in this exact order; if there weren't quotation marks around this phrase, the database would look for any appearance of these words, not necessarily in this exact order.

You will also want to make use of the options in the Select a Field drop-down menu. There are many more options than in the screenshot below, so be sure to explore!

This example will use the TX All Text option, which will search for "social media" in multiple areas in a record: the title, summary, abstract, subject headings, and the full text (if available). This option casts a wide net, so it is a good place to start your search! Let's click Search and see what happens.

screenshot showing search screen in Academic Search Complete with the phrase "social media" highlighted, the "select a field" dropdown highlighted, the "All Text" option in that dropdown highlighted

This search retrieves over 180,000 results! This is far too many to browse through, so we want to find a way to focus our search to look for articles that are most relevant.

You may want to take note of the Subjects that appear under the titles of articles; subjects are labels that describe or pinpoint what an item is most about, so if you see your search terms in the subjects, you'll know that an article is more about those concepts than if they just appear in the title, summary, or somewhere in the body of the article.

In our example, "social media" appears as a subject in the first article. Let's scroll back up to the top and select SU Subjects in the drop-down to search for our phrase in only the subjects of articles.

screenshot showing over 180,000 results for an all text search of "social media". Also highlighted is the term "social media" in the subjects section of an article's record.

You can see that we've changed the drop-down menu to SU Subjects and, after clicking Search, this drops our results to just over 17,000; much more manageable, although still too many to browse through:

screenshot showing the search "social media" with the Subjects options in the drop-down, and over 17,000 results.


Most likely, you'll want to add an additional search term to your search, to help focus your research question. Let's say that in this example, we're interested in the effects of misinformation that is spread through social media platforms. In the second search box, we'll add an additional term (misinformation) to our search, and search for it in the TX All Text field.

You can see that this drops our results to just over 1,000! Let's take a look at the left-hand menu, Refine Results, to see if we can further refine or limit our results.

screenshot showing the term "misinformation" added to the search and the results dropping to just over 1000. Also highlighted is the Refine Results section.

There are a number of ways to limit our results in the Refine Results section.

Your instructor may require that you only reference peer reviewed sources; in this case, you can select the Peer Reviewed filter. Your instructor may also require recent sources (e.g., from within the last 10 years), so you can enter a date range in the Publication Date filter:

screenshot highlighting the peer reviewed and publication date filters

You may want to limit your results to just those languages you read:

screenshot showing the language filter with English highlighted

When I added the 3 filters from the last step, I reduced my results to a more manageable 693.

Let's click on one of the titles to go into the record to see some of the additional tools available in EBSCO databases.

screenshot of results highlighting filters selected and showing the results drop to 693

To view the full text of an article, click the PDF Full Text link.

If you don't want to read the article right away, use the Email option to send yourself the full text, or the Permalink option to send yourself a stable link to the article.

Use the Add to folder option to create folders to organize the articles you find in your searches (you'll need to create a free EBSCO account to use this feature).

Use the Cite option to generate a citation for the article in a variety of citation styles that you can copy and paste into your bibliography (don't forget to review for accuracy).

screenshot of detailed article record with PDF Full Text link highlighted, add to folder, email, cite, and permalink tools highlighted

EBSCO Text-to-Speech Feature

Conduct your search as shown in the steps above. When you are looking at your results, look for this HTML Full Text label. This tells you that there is a Text-to-Speech option for the article: 

Click on the article title and it will take you to this page:

Next, scroll down until you see the page of text:

When you click the play button, the text will play out loud. Happy listening!

The last feature we will highlight here is the webReader menu, where you can customize the sound and appearance of the article. A helpful feature here is the "download mp3 file" option, which allows you to save the recording and listen to it on a personal device or while offline.