Searching a Database


To find Journal Articles (OCA link)

For a basic research papers, such as Writing 2 or Core research papers, try Academic Search Complete (ASC). CSA Illumina and Web of Science are excellent for upper-division courses.

For research papers requiring studies that use specific research methods, such as Sociology 103B or other methods or upper-division courses, use the database specific to your course or major such as PSYCInfo, BIOSIS, Historical Abstracts, and so on. Use the library subject guides or ask a librarian to identify the best database.


To find Books/Anthologies/E-Books

There are 3 ways to find appropriate books.

1. Use CRUZCAT, to see what UCSC has owns.

For a larger selection or more specialized collections use Melvyl to search:

(2.) “University of California Libraries” (all the UCs) or

(3.) “Libraries Worldwide” (all the UCs, plus national and international libraries). Items you find beyond UCSC need to be ordered online.

Tip: To find an anthology, enter you search and append AND "edited by" to the search

E-books can be found when the lists are sorted


Common Search Tips

The following are some of the common features available in most databases:

What are the Search Options?

Though databases look different, they generally work the same. Besides Keyword searches (which are automatic), you can also search by a specific author, title, and so on.

Boolean Operators or Truncation

Does the database include an AND in the search boxes? Do you need to type it in yourself?

Remember to Truncate a word, especially when you’re uncertain how an author may use it, for example, Strateg* to find the many uses of the word including: Strategic, Strategies, Strategy

Help with Subject Terminology

As soon as you begin finding relevant articles, take a look at the “subject headings” or “descriptors” that the database provides. These words or phrases are the key to using the right vocabulary to use to find the most relevant articles

Is it Peer Reviewed?

Does the database let mark your preference for peer reviewed articles on the search page? Are you able to sort the results after you have run your search for peer reviewed articles? Other words that refer to peer reviewed include: Refereed, Academic or Scholarly.

Email, Save, Request, Write

What should you be doing? Well, many things at one time. In no particular order:

Email the citation information for each article. The info will come in handly when you write your bibliography. If  you're able to download the full text, email it as an attachment to your email account.

Save the citations of the articles you like best as you find them in the database. It's easy to lose track of sources you assumed you'd be able to find later.

Request an article as soon as you determine it is not downloadable from the database or UCSC does not subscribe to it.

Write down the keywords you are using and any new subject headings. Also write down the citation information as you find it. If you intend to continue your search later, also write down the name of the database you are using.


To Download the Article

Make sure you're logged in to Off-Campus Access and follow the steps at How Do I Use UC-eLinks


To Find the Book

For UCSC-only books:

  • When you find the right book, write down the library location, for example McH Stacks or S&E Reserves, and the call number. Consult the Instruction for Reading a Call number or [link to floor map info/direct to read library signs?].
  • If the book you need is checked out to someone else, you can place a hold using CRUZCAT or request a different copy from another campus through Melvyl.
  • If the book you need is listed as being in storage (NRLF), request it using Melvyl.

For non UCSC books, When you find an item directly in Melvyl, that is not at the UCSC library, you can request it within Melvyl.