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Research Skills

Search techniques

Basic keyword searching


Search by topic/keywords 

e.g. implementing marketing

Search by subjects

e.g. customer service

Search by key concepts

e.g. PESTEL analysis

Boolean operators and search techniques


Search for resources with both terms in them.

Search: cats AND dogs

Retrieves resources about cats and dogs


Search for resources with either term in them.

Search: cats OR dogs

Retrieves resources about either cats or dogs


Search for resources with only one of the terms in them.

Search: cats NOT dogs

Retrieves resources about cats excluding dogs

Exact phrase

"Social media"


(Group together)

chocolate AND (cake OR tart)


lion* = lion, lioness, lionfish 



wom?n = woman, women

Refine or broaden your search

Too many results?

 + Use more search terms

 + Add a location or date range

“” Put quotation marks around phrases


Too few results?

 Broaden your search terms

+ Add synonyms to your search terms

Use a wider date range


The basics of searching


Searching the Library

Library Search

Search the catalogue to discover resources available through the library.

 Do a broad search of your topic.

 Use refiners to narrow your results by resource type, date range and more.

 Excellent for finding books/ebooks, streaming video and other materials.

 Good starting point for locating articles and reports.

Watch / Learn

• Library Search video  play button

 Library Search help guide Ebook

 Library Search tutorial

Holmesglen logo

Advanced search | Journal A - Z | Google scholar | Ask a librarian


Library subject guides

Use your course's subject guide as a great starting point for finding relevant resources.

 Search tips and guidance on finding relevant resources.

 Links to print and electronic resources tailored to your course.

 Get support from your liaison librarian and the Library.

Browse / Explore

Your subject guide may include books/ebooks, journals, magazines, streaming video, course readings and more.



Search the Library databases to gain full-text access to articles, reports and other publications.

 Always limit results to full-text only.

 Use database refiners to narrow your results.

 Browse by subject listing or check your subject guide for a selection of databases relevant to your course.

Watch / Learn

•  Databases video  play button 
   An introduction, learn the basics.

  5 tips for database searching video  play button



What is a database?: A searchable collection of materials a bit like Google, but provides access to sources that are usually behind a paywall on the Internet. The Library subscribes to relevant databases, giving you free access to these materials which you would otherwise have to pay for!



Searching the Internet

Web sources and Google Scholar

Search the Internet to find general background information and public resources from commercial, government, education, organisation, business and individual websites.

Search Google Scholar for book/journal citations, articles and chapters, conference reports and theses.

 Link Google Scholar results to Holmesglen Library to find both publicly available resources and those within library subscriptions.

 Always evaluate websites carefully.

 Algorithms put the most clicked on pages at the top of the results, not the most relevant.

Watch / Learn

 Using Google Scholar for research video  play button

 Google and Google Scholar help guide Ebook

• Google advanced search tips 


 How to evaluate web sources?: See selecting your resources page for more information.