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One Butler: The Brain Project

Resources related to One Butler: The Brain Project

General Search Tips

The tabs above, numbered 1-5, give some general tips for searching for information using online search tools.  

Examples of search tools are shown below.  

Library catalogs (primarily for books, video and audio recordings, and some articles):

Library databases (primarily for articles, streaming video and audio recordings, and e-books):

Google Scholar (primarily for online information about articles, books, and other scholarly resources):

Some tips on finding good search terms:

  • Use terms found in your background reading on the subject (reference sources example)
  • Ask other people in the field for terms used to describe your topic 
  • Use the Thesaurus or Subject Terms listings, if available, in the databases you are searching (exampleSubject Terms link highlighted at top left of database search page
  • When you find a record for an item that is useful to you, look at its subject headings or descriptors for more ideas (example)

This You Tube video (From Question to Keyword) might also help

Some ways to use your search terms to focus or expand your search:

To focus your search -

  • Put multiple word terms in quotation marks if they should be found together ("brain injury", for example, instead of brain injury)
  • Use AND between search terms to find items with both of those terms (addictions AND brain, for example)
  • Often, you can use NOT with a term to remove results that are out of context with what you are searching.  For example, if you are interested in results on penguins (the flightless aquatic birds) but not the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, you could do a search for penguins NOT Pittsburgh.  [Please note that Google uses a "-" instead of "NOT" so the search would be penguins -Pittsburgh.]    

To expand your search -

  • Use OR between terms to find results with either of the terms (memory OR mind, for example) if you are not sure which term might be used
  • Many search tools have truncation options to find variations of a word.  For example, if you do a search for therap*, the results could include any of these terms: therapeutic, therapy, therapist.  An * is often used for the truncation symbol, but some tools use other symbols such as ! or ?

To focus your search, take advantage of the features of the search tool.  

Often, these features are easiest to use (or only available in) the Advanced Search option. (example)

  • Try searching only the Abstract, or even the Title field, rather than the whole item. 
  • Try searching by Subject, rather than by Keyword (or by a combination of Subjects and Keywords or other fields) [for help with Subject terms, see this e-book]  
  • Use other limiters, if appropriate, such as only a specific type of publication (Peer Reviewed, for example) or only a specific time period.  (Limiting to more recent time periods is generally a good idea for medical and scientific topics.)

​When you find one item, you can use it to find more by following leads and clues:

  • Look at the bibliographies of items that are closely related to your topic.  Some of these sources may be very helpful or may in turn lead you to useful sources.  (example)
  • To find newer sources that reference an item you found, you can search for the item in Google Scholar and click on the Cited by link (example)
  • As mentioned in Tip #1, when you find a helpful item, look at its subject terms and try a subject search using those terms. (example)

These general life skills are also applicable to searching:

  • Check your search to see if you entered it and spelled it as you intended
  • Take a break and try again later
  • Ask for help (
  • Read the "instructions"
    • Check to see if the database you are searching is appropriate for your topic.  Information about the database can usually found by clicking an i or About or similar button or tab. (example)  With EBSCO databases, click on Choose Databases and then Detailed View for this info (example)
    • Check the Help feature or Search Tips (or sometimes it will be a ?) to see if you are entering your searches correctly for that database (example) (another example)
  • Practice will help - your skills will improve with practice
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Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937
CAT: 317-940-8575

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