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Database Searching Tutorials: Further Information and Training: Overview

This guide provides information about tutorials that are available to demonstrate how to use different scholarly databases

Database Searching Tutorials

There are a number of databases available for you to search through the Pratt Research Library and there are a number of tutorials are available which show the unique search capabilities of each database. Many have similar search functions that are universal (e.g. limits to narrow your search by year, language,  publication type, document type, etc., and the use of the Boolean search operators  AND, OR, NOT).  Many of the databases and resources in this guide have User-Friendly Interface Designs that allow you to intuitively search for what you need. 

While this guide is intended to connect you with resources to help you learn how to use specific databases more effectively, we also have additional information and tips about search strategy in our Evidence-Based Literature Searching Guide.


The links in this guide are to the tutorials and information guides with instructions about how to use the databases and other resources available through the Edward L. Pratt Research Library.  To access the databases please visit the Databases tab on the Pratt Library website or you can also access UC Libraries databases through our affiliate access.

Databases to Try First

These are some of our most frequently used scholarly databases. If you aren't sure where to start, consider trying these databases first.

Consider Point of Care Resources

Point of care resources offer highly-structured clinical decision tools that allow information on diagnosis and treatment to be quickly retrieved at the point of care. These resources synthesize and evaluate the most relevant evidence from the primary clinical literature, and they include detailed summaries of a wide range of conditions and interventions, rationale for patient care decisions, and links to original studies.

Check out these tutorials to learn more:

Additional information is available in our Point of Care Tools Guide.


Here are some basic search tips to target better articles:

  • Search each concept separately and build one at a time
  • Think of synonyms for the words that you choose when create your PICO
  • Try to choose a relevant database (e.g. Scopus-biomedical and life sciences)
  • Try several databases, not just one
  • Use Boolean Operators

    AND means both terms must be present (this will narrow your search)
    OR means either term as well as both terms are present (this will broaden your search)
    NOT means one term must not be present

  • Use Controlled Vocabulary also known as MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) in PubMed or Subject Headings-these are terms naming descriptors in a hierarchical structure
  • Use Natural Language-the searcher's own words
  • Combine  Controlled Vocabulary and Natural Language to broaden your search
  • Try Focus (sometimes called Main Concept)-tells the database to retrieve only those articles in which your subject term is considered to be the primary focus of the article.
  • Try Explode-tells the database to search for your requested subject heading as well as any more specific terms that are related to your subject heading
  • Use Limits-limiting by publication date, English language and/or age groups will help narrow down a search
  • Gold mine- is a term that really means you are looking everywhere for “gold”, getting into the material further and pulling more information from what you have found.
       Check the bibliography of a good article for more references
       Look for new articles that cite a good article from more references
       Look for more articles written by the authors
       If the database offers related citations or related article, use this as they try to match your search terms found in the good article