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How to search

You need to find some information for your assignment. You may be used to using search engines like Google but for your university work you will need to use our search tool Library Search to easily find high quality academic resources


Using Library Search, try finding a book and a journal article on a topic of your choice                                 


For further help with Library Search, watch these two short videos

Finding Books By Title


Finding Books and Journal Articles By Keyword





The rest of this section covers using keywords to do better online searches for information and how to keep a record of your search. You can use the keyword search techniques in Library Search and many other search tools you will come across in your studies.

Partner students: you will use your local college library search tools to find information but if you live near Sheffield you can also use Library Search to find books you can come in and borrow.


Using Library Search to find Online Resources only

Whilst you are studying from home, or elsewhere off-campus, you may want to limit your search results to those materials which are available online only. This is very easy to do. Once you have done your search as normal on Library Search, select the option for Online, under the Availability filter on the left hand side of the screen. This will limit your results to just those items available online. The short video below demonstrates how to do this.


Identify your Keywords

Identifying the keywords or key concepts from an assignment brief, and using these to search, rather than entering full sentences or assignment title is a great way to improve your search for information. Watch the short videos below to see how to choose and refine your keywords.

Most search engines will attempt to match all the words you use to search: if you try to search using too many words, you may not find useful results. If you have an assignment title, just pick out the most important words to search with: these are called the key words.

Watch the video to find out how to do this.


There may be other ways of describing what you're looking for: you may find a few results if you search using just the first words you think of, but you may miss many other useful results simply because they used slightly different terms or language. So it's often a good idea to try and think of alternative keywords.

Watch the video to find out how to use alternative keywords.

Combining search keywords

Once you have identified the key words and any alternative key words that you want to use, you can combine these to create an advanced search. 

The three terms most commonly used to combine searches are  OR, AND and NOT- which you can use to combine your keywords and improve the effectiveness of your search.

The video will explain how to do this.

Refining your searches


Have a look at our guide to getting a manageable number of search results.





Test yourself


Now that you have learnt more about Library Search, try searching for a book and a journal article on a topic of your choice again. Do you get better results this time?


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