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English 4913/5403-Victorian Culture: Search Tips

Database Search Tips

  1. Be prepared with synonyms in case your original search produces no results. If the database offers a link to a thesaurus or subject terms tab, use it to locate additional or related words for your search terms.
  2. Pay attention to search tips or help screens provided by each database. Take the time to learn how to use the tool - it will help you to avoid frustration!
  3. Remember that most databases allow for Boolean Searching (see the video in this guide). Use and to narrow, or to expand, not to exclude. Truncation is also useful for bringing back all relevant results. For example, type counsel* to bring back documents containing the words counsel, counseling, counselor...
  4. Review the database search screen for a Thesaurus or Subject Terms tab or link.
  5. Review articles, the references with this article, look for sections listing key words or subject terms, and relationships to your focus on the topic.


Depending on the database, it may offer a variety of ways to limit your results:

  • Full Text
  • Scholarly or Peer Reviewed
  • Publication  or Document Type (journal articles, book reviews, reports)
  • Published Date

For articles that are not available in full text, use the InterLibrary Loan service.

Controlled Vocabulary

Most databases use a controlled vocabulary to organize information and make browsing more efficient and specific to chosen terms. When building your search string, consider keywords, synonyms or related terms. When searching for information about an author's work, consider combining the author's name and a keyword from the work's title. As some databases may or may not have articles on your topic, consider searching multiple databases simultaneously. EBSCO offers an integrated search, which will search all of the NSU subscribed  EBSCO databases at once. See video on this page for an illustration.

The Library Discovery system will search databases and the library collection as well as worldwide libraries simultaneously when using the "Everything" tab.

Combine or group terms or concepts using the Boolean operator "AND" to refine your search string:  keats AND medical or try the search string: coleridge  AND rime . Check to see if the database offers a Thesaurus or a Subject Terms tab or link. For instance, the database Academic Search Premier offers a "Subject Terms" tab, and the MLA International Directory database features a "Thesaurus" tab or "Names as Subjects" tab. Enter terms in the Browsing box to see how the database recognizes them.


Listed below is a sampling of periodicals with information about Literature studies. Search by publication title using the Library Discovery system's  "Everything" tab and "Advanced Search" option. For additional periodicals, look for a "Publications" tab featured in many of the EBSCO databases or check the JSTOR database, "Advanced Search" for its "Journal Filter" and narrow by discipline or journal. (EX. Languages & Literature 467 titles)

  • Bronte Studies (peer-reviewed)
  • Byron Journal (peer-reviewed)
  • Dickens Quarterly (peer-reviewed - devoted to the study of the life, time and works of Charles Dickens)
  • Comparative Drama (peer-reviewed)
  • Conradian (peer-reviewed - devoted to the life and writings of Joseph Conrad)
  • The English Journal
  • ELH (peer-reviewed, subjects: English literature and Literary history)
  • English Literary Renaissance (peer-reviewed - literary theory & criticism)
  • English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 (peer-reviewed)
  • English Studies (peer-reviewed)
  • Journal of British Studies (peer-reviewed - subjects: British literature and English studies)
  • Journal of Commonwealth Literature (peer-reviewed - 2 volumes containing essays, critical studies and reviews about British literature)
  • Journal of Modern English Drama (peer-reviewed)
  • Modern Fiction Studies (peer-reviewed)
  • Nineteenth-Century Contexts (peer-reviewed - subjects: Romanticism; English literature)
  • Notes & Queries (peer-reviewed, subjects: English literature; British history)
  • Review of English Studies (peer-reviewed)
  • SEL: Studies in English Literature (Johns Hopkins) (peer-reviewed; English literature 1500-1900)
  • Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 (peer-reviewed)
  • Studies in Modern Poetry (peer-reviewed)
  • Studies in Philology (peer-reviewed - articles on British literature before 1900, works include classical, Romance and Germanic Languages)
  • Studies in Romanticism (peer-reviewed)
  • Studies in Short Fiction (peer-reviewed)
  • Victorian Literature and Culture Series (peer-reviewed)
  • Victorian Poetry (peer-reviewed)
  • Victorian Studies (peer-reviewed)
  • Women's Writing (peer-reviewed - focuses on women's writing in English Literature before 1900)

Boolean Operators - Tutorial

Searching Multiple Databases

YouTube video created by NSU Libraries on how to search multiple EBSCOhost databases simultaneously.