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UCC Library now Re-opened.

Both Boole and Brookfield BHSL Libraries have re-opened with the safety of Library users and staff as our chief guiding principle.

Please see our policies and important changes regarding re-opening here

Update from our Director of Library Services, Colette McKenna regarding Library Services During COVID Level 5 - Here

Assignment Essentials: Step 3: Searching

Searching the Library Catalogue

The Library Catalogue lets you know what the Library owns and where it is kept (on the shelves or online).

Title search – when you have the exact title of a book
Author search – type in surname first - e.g. Bowen Elizabeth
Keyword search – good for essay titles or research topics. Finds words in the title, table of contents, subject headings. .

Modify search allows you to limit your search results by location, format, publication years etc. Useful when you have got a large list of results.

Save your search results - you can email the search results to yourself. 

Scholarly Journals

The content of scholarly journals tends to be very specialised, and written by people (academic or professional) who are experts in their chosen subject fields.  


Peer Reviewed journals: when other experts evaluate the article before it is published, to check that it meets a high standard ot content, research methodology, reasonable conclusions etc. In university your lecturers often require you to use the peer-reviewed articles when researching for your assignments.

This will depend on your subject area however - sometimes more current materials will only be available in newspapers, for example. See more information on the Information Cycle (Chart and video below).


Finding a Journal article

If your lecturer has given you the details of a specific journal article to read, or you have come across a reference to an article you want to read, you can find the article by looking at the eJournals & eBooks portal on the Library website.

Searching Databases to find articles

You can find articles relevant to your assignment by searching in the databases that the Library subscribes to.

There are databases for most subjects, as well as some that search across a lot of different subject areas at the one time. The databases contain references, and often the full text also, of articles relevant to your search.

You can choose to limit your search to peer-reviewed (or scholarly) articles.

There are different types of databases, for example:

Abstracting & Indexing Databases
These concentrate on a specific subject area e.g. RILM (Abstracts of Music Literature) or Historical Abstracts. These types of databases may not give the full text in the database, but you can check for the article in the eJournals &eBooks Portal

Full text databases
Usually produced by publisher or collection of publishers – they may cover a wide range of subjects – e.g. Academic Search Complete, ProQuest databases

Specialist databases
E.g. reference works such as Oxford Reference Online

You can find the complete list of databases that UCC Library has access to here:


OneSearch searches across a lot of the Library print AND electronic resources at the same time, including:

  • Library Catalogue
  • Journals
  • Databases
  • Books, eBooks
  • Newspaper articles
  • Theses
  • Open Access resources

Information on how to use OneSearch

Quick Search

Choosing the right words

Here's one example of how to search for journal articles relevant to your assignment topic:

e.g...."How can education be used to overcome the stigma of depression?" What are the main concepts within the question?

  • Education
  • Stigma
  • Depression

Think about the different words and alternative spellings (remember American spellings can vary) that might be used to describe those same concepts. Doing a quick search can suggest other useful keywords to you, for example:

  • Education / Information / Teaching
  • Stigma / Prejudice /  Understanding
  • Depression / Mental health / Mental illness

Remember that any search you do is only as good as the words you search with, so it's worth spending some time thinking about what words might yield the more relevant articles.

Search Strategy

Once you have chosen the relevant keywords and the databases you want to search in, use the Boolean Operators to connect the terms. (See video below)

AND All the terms must be present

Education AND stigma AND depression - (Gives you fewer, most focused results)

OR Any one of the terms must be present 

Education OR Information OR Teaching - (This will give you more articles - picking up those articles that mention either education or information or teaching)

NOT One term, but not the other, must be present

Mental health NOT depression - (this will return articles on mental health except for those that mention depression. Use with caution!)

Handy Literature Searching guide from Elsevier

 by Katy Kavanagh Webb, Research and Instructional Services Librarian, and Elsevier’s Library Connect. Provided under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-SA

Tips for searching

Research Basics: video tutorials