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Research on the Run Series

Short (30-minute) learning opportunities on topics you need to succeed!

Supercharge your Search

Workshop description: Explore some of the bells and whistles of the online catalog, the library databases (such as setting up folders and research alerts), and Google Scholar, while considering the advantages of alternative search engines.

On this page, you will find the recording of the workshop conducted on Sept. 29, 2021, details on the tips that were covered, and contact info for the presenter, Joy Hansen.

Sept. 29th, 2021 Workshop Recording

Search the Online Catalog.

#1 Use the Library’s Online Catalog as an “academic Google”.

By entering your search terms into the Library's Online Catalog, Central Search, you will be provided access to a wealth of resources in addition to many suggestions for refining and supercharging your research. For example,let's say you are interested in the topic of "Atlantic History" (which is very broad) and you search the online catalog. You will receive a "Googlicious" number of results (5,251):

Screenshot of search result for "Atlantic History"

Unlike Google, however, on the left side of your results page, you will find a number of ways to further define your search (decrease and finetune) the results (such as by format and resource type) as well as important pieces to the research puzzle as provided by these filters:

Subject: many research topics cross a variety of disciplines - what aspects of the topic do you see? What subjects are appropriate for your course and your research need? 

Creation Date: for History, you probably won't need to filter by date, but for many topics, you may want to limit to the most recent information.

Author/Creator: a great way to understand who writes often on the topic and who may be considered the experts in this field.

Journal Title: this filter will list the scholarly journals in the disciplines related to your topic.  A great way to advance your knowledge of your discipline.

Collection:  this is an excellent way to identify the databases where you may find the most number of results.  For example, you might have assumed that History Reference Center would have the best search results.  However, this filter which shows the number of results by database name found shows that many more results are found in the Jstor database.

#2 Use the Database Bells and Whistles.

Here is a sample search using the ABI/Inform database.

Image of ABI Inform search results

I. Set up folders to store items of interest. You can always delete the items if you change your mind. Caveat: folders are stored on the computer's hard drive so you will only want to use this tip on your laptop or computer at home!

Image of ABI Inform research folder sign in

2. Recent Searches: Look at your search history. Why? You can tell which keywords yielded the most number of results so that you can tweak your search a bit or backwards to a more fruitful search.

Image of ABI Inform search history

3. Set Search Alert: Set up an email alert for your search. 

Let the database do the work for you even when you are sleeping!  After you conduct a search in the library database, look for a "Save Alert" option such as the one shown for ABI Inform.  In some cases, such as with the Ebsco databases, you may find it under the 'Share' menu. You can set up an email alert so that every time an article is added related to your search term(s), you will be one of the first to know!

#3 Set Up Google Scholar to Link to Library Databases on your Off-Campus Computer.

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar is a subset of Google allowing users to search scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. 

What you find may be available in one or more ways:

1. Freely available on the web (i.e, open access). Click on the link for the article,

2. Available for a fee behind a "paywall". Request the article through Interlibrary Loan,

3. Freely available through one of CCSU's research databases. Look for (click on) the 'Find a Copy @ CCSU' link. ***

*** If you are off-campus, you will need to configure your device to see the 'Find a Copy' link. Here's how:

  • Go to
  • Click on the in the upper left hand corner and choose 'Settings'.

Google scholar menu

  • Choose 'Library Links' and search for 'Central Connecticut State University'. Choose each occurence and 'Save'.

Google scholar library links


#4 Consider Alternative Search Engines.

While Google may seem like a comfortable sweater to most of us, there are other search engines that have special features (e.g., protecting your privacy) and are designed to accomplish specific search tasks (e.g., searching for online videos). These articles provide some suggestions:

Seventeen Great Search Engine You Can Use Instead of Google, Search Engine Journal

Six Google Search Alternatives that Respect Your Privacy, USA Today

These five great search engine alternatives do what Google can't, Fast Company

Also, if your search is not fruitful through one search engine, results may (will) differ when you use another. Don't miss out!

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