GCU Library Skills

GCU Library Skills

This section will lay the foundation for conducting research using the GCU Library.

Learning Objectives

  • To become familiar with the library resources available
  • Understand the basic and advanced level of research
  • To know how to contact the library


Library Resources

Databases - The GCU Library has 92 databases with access to 70,000 full text journals and the articles within. Each database has search features that help focus your results and specialize in one subject or is a great tool to learn about many.

LopeSearch - Located on the Find Journal Articles page (http://library.gcu.edu/Database), the federated search allows you to search many databases across many subjects with one search. Looking for a more subject specific search? Choose and click a subject category listed below LopeSearch and use the search box on the subject page. This will provide you with more targeted results. Note that LopeSearch is not always the best option for research in some disciplines and topics.  For disciplines that use certain controlled vocabulary and categories of search terms, a subject specific database may be a better option.

Subject focused databases - Researching theology or education? Click on the subject category that matches your needs and review the recommended databases to search. Knowing how to use LopeSearch is a must, being aware of the specialized databases can increase your search results. To learn how to use these databases to their fullest, see the Advanced Searching section.

InterLibrary Loan (ILL) - For long term research, it is best to uncheck the full text box from within the databases. Most GCU Library databases are set to automatically limit your results to full text. Turning this limiter off will expand your results. You can then use InterLibrary Loan to request items that the GCU Library does not own. You can also use ILL when you locate an item outside the GCU Library (Google Scholar or another search) that we do not own. In order to get access to articles not available in full text, submit an InterLibrary Loan request (https://library.gcu.edu:2443/login?url=http://library.gcu.edu/InterLibraryLoanRequest) and the library staff will get the article to you in 3-12 business days. If you are needing a book, the same form can be filled out, but the process time is 1-3 weeks. The book can be picked up on campus in the library (located on the 3rd & 4th floors of the Student Union) or mailed to your home.

LopeCat - The library has over 150,000 electronic books and over 35,000 print books. Click on "Find Books & More" from http://library.gcu.edu and enter a title or search terms in the box and click search. To narrow your results to electronic books, click on Electronic under the Form of Item, located on the left side. After selecting a title, click on View eResource. Enter your GCU username and password and begin reading the pages. For print books, you can come to the 4th floor of the Student Union where the books are located and select or pick up books. If you are not in the Phoenix area, we can mail the books to you as well.

RefWorks - Located on http://library.gcu.edu, clicking on RefWorks & EndNote Web will allow you to create an account to track your citations from all the various places you may gather them from. Using RefWorks will allow continued use, even if you are not affiliated with GCU in future. RefWorks is a great tool to take citations directly from the databases or the Internet and to store them. There is the option to display a citation in a variety of formats, including 6th edition for APA. There is also the ability to create bibliographies, depending on what your needs are. To learn about RefWorks, click on the RefWorks section of this website or attend the library webinar held on the 1st Monday of the month. Click here to view times and dates: http://www.gcu.edu/Student-Affairs/Library/Webinar-Sign-Up.php

Basic Research skills

Think concepts, not sentences - Databases can search titles, authors, keywords, subject headings, abstracts and many more fields that have been created. The databases look for exact word matches so typing in a sentence will not bring back a high number of results, if any. Instead, break down your sentence or thesis statement into the major components.

Example topic: Using libraries will allow students to get higher grades
 Example concepts: library use, library usage, students, success, grades

Combining concepts - Think of synonyms of concepts and put them in one search box, connecting them with OR. Brainstorm synonyms for your keywords. 

Example: college OR university OR higher education

Truncation/wildcard symbol - To efficiently search the databases and to not have to think of every ending to a word, using the truncation or wildcard symbol will do this task for you. In ProQuest and EBSCO databases, shift+8 * is the truncation symbol. The symbol is put at the end of the root word.

Example: educat* = educate, education, educating, educator, educates

It can also be used in the middle of a word.

Example: wom*n = woman, women

Publication date - This option is great when looking for current articles or from a specific time period. Under the search boxes on the ProQuest and EBSCO search pages is a publication date box. Enter the years that are of interest and click search. This can also be done after the search has been run. Look to the margins for these options.

Advanced Research Skills

Databases have many options to limit the results. Knowing what type of article, you are looking for will lead you to using these.

CINAHL Headings - In the CINAHL Complete database, the CINAHL Headings allow researchers to search for the medical or proper term that is often used in literature instead of layman's terms. This can also assist when researching medications. This feature is located above the search boxes.

Example: heart attack

Results: Heart Attack Use: Myocardial Infarction

Example: aspirin

Results: Anti-inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal

Document type - If you are looking for a research article, book review, case study, conference proceedings, or more, look for the Document Type box on the main search page.

Publication - Are you interested in a particular journal title and want to search within? Both ProQuest and EBSCO allow you to locate a specific publication. To locate this feature, look above the search boxes for the heading Publications.

Methodology - In PsycINFO, there is the option to limit your results by methodology. This can help when looking for empirical study, literature review, treatment outcome/clinical trial, and much more. This is located on the right side of the page, under the search boxes.

Publication or Source type - ProQuest and EBSCO databases allow you to search by publication type. You can limit by newspaper, book, dissertation, academic journals, trade journals, health report and more. These options are located below the search boxes in each of the ProQuest or EBSCO databases.

Contacting the Library

The library staff are dedicated to assisting students, staff, and faculty with their research needs. Let them guide you to the best resources available, whether in the library or on the internet.

Ask a Librarian hours:

Monday-Friday                 7am-10pm MST

Saturday-Sunday             10am-10pm MST

Call- Toll free 1.800.800.9776 ext. 6396641 or Local 602.639.6641 Librarians are standing by to take your call.

Email - Send your questions through our Ask a Librarian link: http://library.gcu.edu/AskALibrarian

Chat - Chat live with a librarian Mon-Fri 9a-4p MST. Go to http://library.gcu.edu and click on the chat icon

In person - Come visit on the main campus of GCU. The library is located on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Student Union. The building hours:

Monday-Thursday           7am-12am MST

Friday                           7am-10pm MST

Saturday                      10am-10pm MST


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