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Research Process

This guide will help you through the process of research, including picking a topic, focusing you topic, finding keywords, searching library resources, evaluating sources, and citing sources.

Using OneSearch

Now that you have a research topic and a research question, now it is time to learn more about your topic by searching for information. While you may be familiar with using Google, using the library may be a bit different. Don't worry! This page will guide you through the steps of using OneSearch, the library's main search tool. Also, many of the tips we will cover can be used in many of our other Research Databases.

Why Use OneSearch?

OneSearch, the library's main search tool, will search everything the library owns, including books, articles, and more. It will also search many of our research databases at the same time. Using OneSearch will help you:

  • Understand what type of information is available on a topic
  • Avoid any paywalls, or paying for use of an article or book, that you may encounter when using Google
  • Filter or limit your search results in ways that are not available in other search engines
  • Find credible, authoritative sources on your topic

Basic Search

Using OneSearch for a basic search is a simple procedure. Just follow these steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Place one of your keyword into the OneSearch box and click the search icon:

  3. The results set will open in a new tab.

Boolean Operators

Sometimes, your research topic will require you to search more than one concept at a time. Our example of how will climate change affect the US consumer price index is a topic that has a few concepts. If we just look for climate change, our results will have a mix of subtopics of climate change. Also, if we search just consumer price index, our results will be mostly business data related. In order to find the most relevant information for our topic, we will have to combine terms using Boolean Operators.

Boolean Operators are simple ways for you to expand or restrict your search. There are only three to remember: AND, OR, NOT

Using AND

When you connect to concepts with AND, your result set will be narrower because you are telling OneSearch you want information that contains both concepts.

Your search would look like: climate change AND consumer price index

Using OR

OR will expand your search because you will now be looking for information that contains one word, the other word, or both.

Your search would look like: climate change OR global warming

Using NOT

Not will narrow your search results by limiting your results to those that contain the words before NOT, but not the words after NOT. You may want to do this when one of your keywords may have different meanings in different contexts, or if you want to exclude results that may not be relevant to your research.

For example, if you want to research cardio exercises, but did not want to include running you would use NOT.

cardio exercises NOT running

Choosing Advanced Search

You can also simply click Advanced Search directly under the OneSearch box. This will open to the advanced search page. This will allow you to use Boolean Operators by providing separate search fields. There are also many other options you can choose from on the advanced search page, which will help you limit or expand your search. Feel free to browse those on your own. 


Video created by Western University

Understanding Your Results

If we search: global warming AND consumer price index, we get over 43,000 results

This may be much fewer than a Google search, but you may still want to use the variety of tools provided in OneSearch to limit or filter your results to only those relevant to your research topic.

For help in determining which result to read, take a look at the video to the left of this box

Limiting Your Search Results

All the tools to limit your search results will be on the left side of the results page. These include limiting to only scholarly and peer-reviewed information, by publication date, and by format.


Why Use a Research Database?

As we learned, OneSearch searches everything the library owns, plus, many of our research databases. Even though there are ways to limit our search results, sometimes it is easier to use a Research Database for focused research. 

Types of Databases
  • General - contains information on a variety of subjects and will include both scholarly and non-scholarly material
  • Reference - contains short encyclopedia articles on a variety of subjects
  • Subject - contains information about one general subject

Each database has a brief description of the type of information it contains directly below the name of the database.

How to Access the Databases
  1. Start at the library's homepage:
  2. Click the All Databases button next to the OneSearch box
  3. Use the A-Z links to navigate to a database, or just scroll down to the database you would like to access

How to Choose a Database

You can always Ask a Librarian if you are unsure about which database to use. You can also use the Subject or Type drop-down menus to help you select the database you would like. 

Using OneSearch Video