Arden Library Appvent Day #7 - Library Portal Search

Submitted by elatham on Wed, 11/22/2023 - 11:42
A festive wreath with a number seven in the centre on a dark blue background with snowflakes and hanging baubles

Today for Day #7 of our Arden Library Appvent Calendar, we’re looking at something that’ll definitely be helpful when doing research for your assignments – the Arden Library Portal search! If you’re new to searching our library catalogue, or you have trouble finding relevant results, our search tips are just what you need.  

Creating a search strategy 

If you have a research topic or assignment question you want to find resources for, we highly recommend beginning by identifying the key concepts and creating a list of keyword terms you can search for. It’s also really helpful to think of different ways to phrase a concept or keyword and note down as many alternative terms and synonyms as possible. You’ll also want to think of related terms (these aren't the same as your keywords, but words you might expect to appear in relevant search results), and it can be useful to think of antonyms (words that mean the opposite) of your keywords, so you can either include or exclude them, depending on what you want to see.  


An example of a search strategy grid divded up between keywords and alternatives or synonyms
Search strategy grid


You can start by searching with keywords in the search bar on the Library Portal homepage but if you want to maximise your efforts, the EBSCO Advanced Search can really help you.  

Boolean Operators  

The EBSCO Advanced Search has built in options to use some Boolean operators (words or symbols you can use in a search to increase precision): 

  • AND – this focuses the search to find multiple terms that occur within the same source e.g. anxiety AND depression if you want to look for results that discuss both. This is good for your keywords/key concepts.  

  • OR – this broadens the search and allows you to search for alternative terms or synonyms e.g. anxiety OR depression if you want to look for results that discuss either.

  • NOT – this narrows the search and allows you to exclude terms that might often coincide with your desired search terms but that you don’t want to see e.g. anxiety NOT depression if you only want to look for results that discuss anxiety 

Handy hint: You don’t have to use the Advanced Search builder to use these terms. Instead, you can create your own search using Boolean Operators in the main search bar but if you’re using AND, OR or NOT operators, make sure to use capital letters for these so they aren’t mistaken for a search term.   


A screenshot of the EBSCO Advanced Search page
The EBSCO Advanced Search builder


There are also some other Boolean operators you can use to finesse your searching, such as: 

  • “” quotation marks – if you are searching for a specific word combination, putting quotation marks around these words will return results containing this exact phrase  

  • * asterisk – if you have a root or stem word where you want to include variations on that word, the asterisk will return results including any word that begins with that root or stem e.g. administrat* will bring back administration, administrative, administrator, etc.   

Don’t forget to use the filters to refine your results so you’re not overwhelmed! You can filter to see only full text results, specify a date range and what type of source you’re looking for, and more.  

We hope these tips are helpful and that you find searching the library catalogue rewarding. If you’re still having difficulties finding library resources, or would like some guidance on using EBSCO, help over the winter break is at hand! Check out the video recording at the bottom of the library support page for an overview of the EBSCO interface: Intro to the new search. And when you’re back in the new year, book a place on one of our three library workshops: Introduction to the Library, Advanced Literature Searching, and Boolean Searching and the Library. You can see the full list of workshops available and book a place on any of them here: Academic Skills Workshops.