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Mariner Tutorials

Searching for Articles in Electronic Indexes and Databases

What's In This Module:
What is an Index?

Periodical indexes point you to articles from scholarly journals, popular magazines, and newspapers. Some may also include book chapters, doctoral dissertation or papers presented at scholarly conferences. They are available in print volumes or on CDs in the campus libraries, and available over the Web through Mariner.

Some indexes give only citation information, others might add an abstract to the information, and others may give you the full-text of the article available for printing from your computer.

While you may sometimes find the same citation in two different indexes, no two periodical indexes are alike. In order to find articles on your topic, you will need to find a periodical index that covers disciplines or subject areas related to your research.

In Mariner, the more information icon icon in front of the name of the index, tells you valuable information about the index and its usefulness to you. A sample of one of these descriptions appears below.


Title: PsycINFO

Coverage: 1887 to present

Description: Index to the professional and academic literature in psychology and related disciplines, including medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, education, pharmacology, physiology, linguistics, and other areas. Coverage includes references and abstracts to over 1,300 journals in more than 20 languages, and to book chapters and books in the English language. The database includes information from empirical studies, case studies, surveys, bibliographies, literature reviews, discussion articles, conference reports and dissertations. Updated weekly.

Format: Internet

How Does an Index Differ from URSUS?

URSUS is where you look for books for your research, but it also includes library records for audiovisual material, maps, and government documents. (See the module on Finding Books--URSUS). Indexes point users to articles.

How Do I Log on to the Indexes Remotely?
To log on to the Indexes, you will need a connection to the Internet from your machine and a web browser. You will also need a valid University of Maine System library card. The URL for Mariner is
How Do I Select an Appropriate Index?
The key to finding good articles is to select an appropriate index. The description of the index as shown above includes information to help you determine if the index will be useful.
How Do I Plan My Search?
Once you select an index, read and study the help screens and/or search guide that comes with the index to avoid wasting time with a search strategy that does not work.

The key to an effective search is a good search statement (See also Getting Started on Research).

1. Write out your search statement: The regulation of pollution credits.

2. Choose effective keywords that communicate the main topic ideas. Some words in your search statement will be unique to your topic and define important concepts from your topic. Other words are general terms and could be used in just about any topic.

Three main categories of ideas emerge from this topic: Topic Words Related Words regulation regulate, legislation, law pollution emissions, waste, contamination credits loans, promises, deferred payments

All of these terms will be helpful when searching with keywords for items on your topic.

How Do I Conduct My Search?

The best way to start searching for your topic is to search by "keyword" using the key words or phrases that best describe your topic and searching with the keyword search option in the index. Remember when searching by keyword, you are looking for the exact word match, not the concept. To search for concepts, use a "subject" search.

Another way to search is to combine keywords to broaden or narrow the search. This is called "Boolean Searching", and the terms you use to combine the keywords are called "Boolean Operators." Boolean operators give instructions to the index on how to conduct your search.

The three most common operators are "and," "or" and "not." Once you understand the principle of Boolean searching, it can be applied to most of your searching--not only in the indexes in Mariner, but also when searching the Internet. Look at the "Help" information found on the index search screen to see if the index allows for Boolean searching.

Each result contains all search terms. Each result contains at least one term. Results exclude specified term(s) following the word "NOT."
The search "pollution AND credits" will find items that contain both terms. "AND" tells the index to retrieve items whose records contain all of the keywords you enter. This operator narrows your search. The search "pollution OR credits" will find items that contain at least one of the keywords you enter. This operator broadens your search. The search "pollution NOT credits" will find only those items that contain the word "pollution." This operator excludes words from your search. Be careful using "not" in your search--you might exclude items you later realize you need.

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