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History: Articles & Databases

Quick Tip

Be sure to use commands, called Boolean Operators, to further specify your search. 

Quick Tips for Google

  • Be clear about what you need and eliminate any extraneous information or words. This means you don't want to type in full sentences or questions, just pull the key words or phrases (just like you would in academic databases). 
  • Boolean Operators work in Google too. See the information above in "Quick Tip" to learn more about Boolean. 
  • Think about who else would care about this information and how they (and therefore you) might phrase it. Looking for information on women married during World War II? You would want to search "war bride" or "GI bride" and not something like "women married during the war." 
  • Don't know much about your topic yet? Start broad and work your way down. For instance, if you are researching the neighborhood of Greenpoint in the 1960's you might want to start by researching the neighborhood first. Run a search for Greenpoint, and then narrow down to your dates as you gather more information and can properly adapt your search. 

Suggested Databases for Researching

Librarian Tip: When searching for names of people and/or places be sure to include alternative spellings to capture all pertinent results.

Librarian Tip: When searching for names of people and/or places be sure to include alterative spellings to capture all pertinent results.

You can find a link to all of our databases below. There you can limit by subject or even content type. Depending on what you are researching you will want to pick a database that corresponds to that topic or utilize a multidisciplinary database (like ProQuest Research Library). 

Librarian Tip: When searching for names of people and/or places be sure to include alterative spellings to capture all pertinent results.

Keyword and Subject Searching

Keywords Subjects
Natural language words that describe your topic Pre-defined "controlled vocabulary" that describe what an item is about 
More flexible search - looks for anywhere the words appear in the record Less flexible search - only the subject fields will be searched
Broader search, but may yield irrelevant results Targeted search; results are usually more relevant to the topic, but may miss some variations

Keyword searching is how we normally start a search. Pull out important words or phrases from your topic. 

Subject Terms and/or Headings are pre-defined terms that are used to describe the content of an item. These terms are a controlled vocabulary and function similarly to hashtags on social media.

We are indebted to the MIT What are subject headings and keywords? box for some concepts displayed here.

In the Catalog, subject headings are displayed under "Description" in the record of an item. Click on the arrow to the left of "Description" and then scroll down to the section called "Subjects."




In the Databases, subject headings may be listed as Descriptors, Subjects and/or Subject Headings and are typically located in the Abstract and/or Details of an article.


Information Creation Timeline

Information is created in different formats and at varying times. The formats are usually dependent on the time in which the information is being produced. This process is sometimes called the Information Cycle or Timeline. 

Some forms of information do not adhere to this timeline, but rather can be created or modified at any time (for example: social media posts or online encyclopedias).

For more detailed information on these formats see the TRU (Thompson Rivers University) Libraries Information Cycle page

For more information about utilizing resources from different time periods see our Primary Sources box

We are indebted to the VIU (Vancouver Island University) Library Information Cycle page for some of this content.

Can't Find the Full Text?

If a database doesn't have the full text of an article you are looking for, you can copy and paste the title of the article into our catalog to see if we might have that item here. If we don't have it, request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

Google and Academic Databases

Google, and more appropriately Google Scholar, can be valid places to search for articles and organizations. However, subject specific databases will have more advanced search options and articles. Here are some key differences between databases and Google.

  Library Databases Google Google Scholar
Types of
You Can Find
  • Scholarly journal articles
  • Newspaper articles
  • Reviews
  • Theses & dissertations
  • Empirical evidence
  • Popular, commercial, educational websites
  • Organization websites
  • Directories
  • Current news & events
  • Few free journal articles
    & books (many academic publications are not free)
  • Educational websites
  • Theses & dissertations
  • Conference publications
    & presentations
  • Scholarly journal articles
    (but access will be restricted
    to free resources,
    see below for how to set
    up SLC links)
Credibility & Review
  • Subject specific books
    and articles
  • Evaluated for accuracy
    and credibility
  • Lack of control allows
    anyone to publish
  • Usually not evaluated for accuracy & credibility
  • Some resources evaluated
    for accuracy & credibility,
    but not through Google,
    so need to verify review process for each publication
  • Database functionalities
    allow users to search
    for & find more relevant results
  • Less ability to search
    for & retrieve precise
  • Not releasing 
    information on
    algorithms, paid
    products can float
    to the top
  • Less ability to search for
    & retrieve precise results
  • Not releasing information
    on algorithms, therefore
    it is not known why
    results float to the top