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How To Search the Library Collections

A guide to basic research skills, and how to access the Library Collections at CityU

Research Basics

Find Articles, E-Books, Videos, and More

The CityU Library and Learning Resource Center’s collection is 98% online! You need your username and password to log in to the library’s online resources.

From the search box on our library’s home page, you can search multiple online databases, e-books, and other resources. Use the many limiters, such as full-text, content type, publication date, subject area, and more to find what you need.

Need help getting started?

If you have been searching for information for 15-20 minutes, and you have not had success, contact us through Ask a Librarian.

Basic Search Tips

Start Your Search with Keywords

Start with a topic and determine the topic’s major concepts. These concepts are your keywords, which are very important in getting relevant results.

Enter your keywords into the search box on our home page.

Topic = Keyword 1 + Keyword 2 + Keyword 3

Example: What affects the price of oil? (topic) = Oil (keyword) + supply and demand (keywords) + OPEC (keyword)

Use quotation marks

Put names and phrases in quotation marks in order to search for those words side-by-side (phrase searching).

For example: “Erik Erikson” or “psychosocial development theory.”

Use limits (full text, publication date) to focus your search 

Using multiple limits will help you narrow your search.

NOTE: If you get no results or only a few results, use fewer keywords and fewer limiters. The more keywords you put into your search, the fewer results you will get, and the fewer keywords you put into your search, the more results you will get.

City U library catalog with search limits



Truncation, also called stemming, is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings. To use truncation, enter the root of a word and put the truncation symbol (*) at the end. The database will return results that include any ending of that root word.

  • Examples:
    • child* = child, childs, children, childrens, childhood
    • genetic* = genetic, genetics, genetically

Truncation symbols may vary by database; common symbols include: *, !, ?, or #


Similar to truncation, wildcards substitute a symbol for one letter of a word. This is useful if a word is spelled in different ways, but still has the same meaning.

  • Examples:
    • wom!n = woman, women
    • counse?ing = counseling, counselling
Adapted from MIT Libraries CC-BY-NC: 


Google is Great, But Be VERY Selective about Online Sources

Librarians love online searching, because there are open-access studies, reports, data and other materials available from research groups and universities. However, you need to be very selective about what you use when you search online. Make sure the sources you find online meet a high standard for quality and academic writing before citing them in your assignments.

Look for content or documents that clearly have authors or are published by experts or organizations that share information about their purpose. Always read the “About Us” section. Examples of institutions producing high-quality reports/research:

Look for content or documents that cite sources and offer in-depth analysis of an issue. For example:

Use a variety of criteria to determine credibility and relevance. For more information, see our Research Guide: