Searching Databases

Science Direct

You can perform a global search for all items from the main page, or choose the Journals or Books link at the top of the page. (You will need to log in with your username and password in order to access articles.)

For more control over your search results, choose Advanced search. Here you can specify from a set of search categories, limit a search to images or reference works, and also refine the time period for the search.

You may find it more convenient to do a general search from the main page and then refine your results using the filters at left on the results page. Filter by year, publication, keyword, and content type.

You may not have access to all of the articles returned in these results. The small icons at the far right will indicate whether an article is open access (no paywall), included in the library’s Science Direct subscription, or available only through purchase. Many articles that are available elsewhere are not identified as Open Access in Science Direct, though, so speak with a librarian or check our Accessing Paywalled Articles page for other options.

EBSCO Alt HealthWatch

In EBSCO you can specify from a set of search categories, and limit results in a number of ways: publication date, peer-reviewed, full-text. Be aware that you may be overly limiting your search by choosing full-text availability. If your results include a paywalled article you’re interested in, an open version can sometimes be found elsewhere.

Be aware that EBSCO’s default search mode uses Boolean operators. This means the database needs instructions about how to distinguish search terms. Notice that in the Science Direct search above, the keywords “breastfeeding” and “depression” were entered in the search box. To search in Boolean mode, these two terms would need to be separated by an “AND” operator directing the database to read this search as two separate keywords, “breastfeeding” and “depression,” and return articles that include both terms.

Unless you are comfortable using Boolean operators, select Find all my search terms or use SmartText Searching. In practice, though, if EBSCO finds no results for a Boolean-mode search, it will substitute SmartText results.

You can customize the results display with the Page Options drop-down menu, and also limit your results further by selecting filters in the left column. Notice the thumbnails appearing next to each article. Many of these results are from periodicals rather than scholarly journals; apply a filter at left and EBSCO will return only academic journal articles, or limit further and receive only peer-reviewed results.


PubMed is the National Library of Medicine’s comprehensive database of citations in the biomedical literature ( Publicly-funded, the database is free to use. Citations include both open and pay-walled articles. If an open version is available, either in the NLM’s own archive (PubMed Central) or elsewhere, the listing will include a link to the full text.

Notice that in this search for articles on breastfeeding and postpartum depression, keywords can be entered without using connecting words like AND, and there’s no need to group terms inside quotation marks.

The more specific your request, the fewer results you’ll get. Entering just “breastfeed-ing” returns over 40,000 citations. Enter more terms or keywords to get more relevant results. Then sort and refine your results by date, relevance, or full-text availability.

Click a title to see the abstract. On this page, you’ll see any full-text links in the upper right corner, or click the free-text link at the bottom.

The “Similar articles” box on the right can be helpful – the algorithm searches words from
the title and abstract of each citation in the database to find those most similar to this
paper. (Note that the list is created according to relevance, not how recent the articles are.)
It can also be useful to click author names to see what other work they’ve done.

Google Scholar

Scholar pulls data from resources like PubMed and cross-references it with data
collected from the open web. If Scholar finds the full text available online, you’ll find a link (to a PDF, a Word document, or the HTML text) in the column on the right. If an open version is available, Google will almost always have found it. But if you begin a search in Scholar and don’t find a link for an open version of an article, check PubMed as well.