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College Research and Writing Tutorial

How to start searching

Which search tool should I use?

  • Each search tool is best for finding different kinds of information.
  • If you're searching for general information about something, a search engine like Google or Bing is going to be your best option, just remember to think critically about your search results. Who paid Google to promote the results you're seeing? Is there a way for you to adjust your search to get more relevant results that don't push products and services on you?
  • If you're searching for academic information (scholarly sources,) you're going to want to steer clear of Google and stick with one of the four search tools our librarians recommend: the library catalog, ProQuest Ebook Central, Google Scholar (not Google Search, they're different!), and library databases. Check out the descriptions below - you can start searching right from this page.

The library catalog (TOPCAT)

  • TOPCAT is the library catalog search tool.
  • TOPCAT is best for finding physical items like books, textbooks, DVDs, and teaching materials.
  • We don't typically recommend this tool for finding journal articles or ebooks.

ProQuest Ebook Central

  • Through ProQuest Ebook Central, we have access to over 200,000 ebooks - that's over 4x the number of print books in the library.
  • Ebook Central includes textbooks, books written by scholars, and even some popular books.

Google Scholar

  • Google Scholar indexes millions of academic journal articles and other scholarly sources.
  • When you access Google Scholar through the library's website, Google Scholar will automatically search all of our databases to see if we have full text access to each article. If we do have full text access, it will appear in the right sidebar, will look something like [PDF], and clicking on that link will automatically take you to the full text.
  • If you prefer to search in databases directly, check out the link below for the databases we subscribe to.

Click the buttons below to navigate to other pages in the tutorial