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Graduate Students: Everything you need to know about the Library... but were afraid to ask!

Library Orientation for Grad Students & Post Docs

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5 Databases You Should Know!

1. Dissertations & Theses Global

Want to find out if your dissertation or thesis topic is fresh or stale? Or check your advisor's previous students' work? You'll definitely want to search this database! You can easily search D&T Global by author, topic / full text keywords, subject area, by advisor, institution, language, and much more. Includes full-text for most dissertations 1997-present and some older years as well. Borrow (or purchase) older dissertations we don't own through our Interlibrary Loan services.

You may also want to explore Dissertations & Theses @ ISU, a subset of the database above that helps you identify & access ISU works only. See also our search tips / info on the topic of finding ISU dissertations and theses using Quick Search. You can also go directly to the ISU Digital Repository to browse and read ISU dissertations and theses there.

2. ISU Library's Quick Search

Quick Search is... an easy to use tool for quickly gathering information & seeing what's available (books, journal articles, more) from a variety of databases & subject indexes on your topic. Can be a useful & good way to get started. Quick Search is also our "library catalog" - search it whenever you need to know what we own locally. Check out our Quick Search Tips for quick info on how to get started with your searches.

Quick Search is not... the only place to look for journal articles in all subjects, nor the only source to use when comprehensive research results are needed. Coverage for research articles varies quite widely by discipline, ranging from excellent to spotty.

When your article search needs to be comprehensive, visit our Article Indexes & Databases list also to find and search research indexes relevant to your subject area(s).

3. WorldCat

WorldCat is... a catalog of over 23,000 library catalogs across the world, with an emphasis on libraries in the US. The WorldCat network provides you with a much more comprehensive view of books and materials on your topic, beyond what your local libraries happen to own. WorldCat can be an excellent tool for discovering theses and dissertations, along with books of all types, DVDs, and more. You can easily identify books of interest, discover whether they are owned by libraries nearest you, or request to borrow them through our easy to use and very prompt Interlibrary Loan services. The free web version of WorldCat includes settings that allow you to discover which US libraries nearest to you (wherever you happen to be located) own the book you want. You can also search WorldCat via the ISU Library's subscription version, which allows more advanced search features to refine your results.

WorldCat is not... inclusive of all library catalogs worldwide, though you will find selected libraries from across the world are included. Outside the US, national libraries, archives, and libraries of major universities tend to be well represented. In the US, research libraries, public libraries of all sizes, special libraries, and national and archival libraries are very well represented.

Click here for our hands-on tutorial of the free web version of WorldCat!

4. Google Scholar

Google Scholar is... an easy tool to search that quickly finds citations (and often full-text) to online scholarly articles, books, and web resources with a minimum of fuss. Advanced Search options can be very useful (click on Menu lines in top left corner). If accessing from off-campus, log into your Google account and change your settings for your library to be Iowa State University (pick the View It option) for seamless linking between Google Scholar results and items owned by our Library. Google Scholar also includes useful citation counts for some materials, helping you gauge an item's potential impact on your research field.

Google Scholar is not... the best choice for all subjects nor as flexible as subject-focused research indexes. Also not the only source to use when comprehensive research results are needed. Bear in mind it searches online materials only, much of which (books, for example) may not be full-text online.

Setting Google Scholar for Off-Campus Use  This guide will describe how to set Google Scholar to link to ISU resources when you use it off-campus.

5. Web of Science

Web of Science is... the interface name for a set of databases which includes CAB Abstracts, Biosis Previews, Zoological Record, and a collection of citation indexes. There are three main citation databases you can search individually (Science Citation Index; Social Sciences Citation Index; Arts & Humanities Citation Index) or altogether as Core Collection. The citation indexes allow you to search for authors or articles that are heavily cited, an important way to identify key works.

RESEARCH TIP: To search a specific Citation index, choose Core Collection and then view More Settings. Choose the specific index(es) from the drop-down list.

Web of Science is not... just "science." As described above, it covers the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

If you like Web of may also want to try Scopus. Web of Science only covers the "core" journals in each discipline. Scopus has similar features to Web of Science and covers many more journals.