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Finding Business Articles: Searching Strategies

Searching in Databases

Searching library databases is a little different from searching other search engines, such as Google.

View this interactive tutorial to help you practice using the Tips & Tricks listed below.

If you're still not getting the results you want, visit our Ask-a-Librarian page or visit the Reference Desk in Andersen Library.

Tips & Tricks


AND between search terms will return fewer results. For example, searching marketing AND coffee tells the database you want articles that discuss both topics. 


OR between search terms will return more results. For example, searching marketing OR coffee tells the database you want any articles that use either one of your search terms. 


When searching library databases, put quote marks around phrases. This tells the database you want only articles that contain those words next to one another. For example:

  • Searching strategic management (without quotes) will retrieve articles with strategic AND management in the text, but the words won't necessarily be next to one another.
  • Searching "strategic management" (with quotes) will retrieve only articles with those words in the text as a phrase. This will cut down the number of results you get and make your search results more relevant to your topic.


Using an asterisk (*) when you search tells the database you want all variations of the root word. For example, if you search for market*, you will get results for market, markets, marketing, marketer, etc. This is especially helpful if you want to search both singular and plural forms of a word. Note: occasionally a database will use a different symbol for this function. Ask Naomi Schemm if you have questions.

Subject searching

If your keywords are not bringing up the results you want, try using the "Subject: Thesaurus Term" section in many of the EBSCOhost databases, or the MAINSUBJECT designation in many Proquest databases. This will give you alternative keywords based on the search you initially conducted. It can be really helpful if you need to narrow your search to a more specific topic. Another way to find alternative keywords is to look at the subject terms list included in relevant articles you find.


Rather than reading an entire article at first to determine if it is relevant to your topic, read the Abstract. An abstract is simply a summary of the article, and it will give you a good idea what the full article is about. However, don't just read the abstract and cite it in your paper. The article will contain more detailed information, and you will be able to see it in the context in which it was intended.