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About the Research Process

Finding Scholarly Literature

Once you have background information on your topic, the next step is to search for academic books and articles. The most common way to search is by keyword. Keyword searching works well when you do not already know a specific author or title. As you’re looking through records, check the small star next to titles to collect them to an e-shelf (see the top of the page to find the e-shelf link). This will allow you to easily collect items you may want to use.

Find More Relevant Results

We have dedicated a page to search tips for our BU Libraries Search.  Below are some basic tips:

  • Try an advanced search by title or author if you already have references for relevant works from any sources you’ve consulted.
  • Subject searches are an advanced way to search, but also can lead to more relevant results. Many “controlled” subject terms are common ones that make sense.
  • Whenever you are looking at search results, pay attention to the number of results. Change your search terms if retrieving too many hits. In general, the lower the number of hits, the more relevant your results will become.
  • Use through the filters in the right column to refine your results by material type, subject, and other categories.
  • In our libraries, related books can be found by browsing the books nearby on the shelf.
  • Scour the bibliographies in the highly relevant items you’ve retrieved to find other useful texts.
  • Our other subscription databases are an excellent way to locate relevant material. Some databases cover a small amount of literature in a specific subject area, but searching in them retrieves more relevant results because of that focus. Please ask us for assistance if you are having difficulty deciding which database to use.