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Use this guide to learn about the research process and plan your research project.

Research Planning Guide

Benefits of Advanced Searching

Suppose a friend recommends the book Holiness by Henry Blackaby.  You want to know if the DBU Library has the book so you can check it out.  You type <holiness> into the basic search box, but you get way too many results!  Even when you limit the search to books only, you still have over 2,000 hits!  What you need is a way to search for the title and the author simultaneously.  That's when the Advanced Search can really help.


1. Click on the Advanced Search link—it's right underneath the basic search box. 
2. Type <holiness> in the box next to "Title."
3. Type <blackaby> in the box next to "Author."
4. To save time, choose "Book" in the "Format" menu.
5. Click Search.

Instead of 2,000 results, now you get only one—the right one.  Remember to click on the title to see if it's available.

Other limitations are available as well.  Use the drop-down lists next to the blank boxes to search for Keywords, Titles, Authors, Journal Titles, and Subjects, as well as ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) and other designations.  Under the "Narrow your search" bar, you can choose a range of publication years, the audience (juvenile or not), different types of content like fiction, non-fiction, and biography, and various formats and languages

You can combine these options in a variety of ways.  For example, if you know that Henry Blackaby wrote some books in partnership with Claude King, you can change the Keyword box to show "Author" then type <blackaby> in that box and <king> in the other Author box.  The combinations are practically endless!

If you need help using Advanced Search or any aspect of the Library Catalog, please feel free to contact us.  We're here to help you!

Title, Author & Subject Searches

Use the Advanced Search option to search by title, author, or general subject.

  • In the title search, type the words that you assume are in the title of the book. This is helpful when you are searching for a very specific book.
  • In the author search, type the name of an author whose books you want to find. This kind of search can be helpful when your topic has been widely written about by one or two people.
  • The general subject search searches the Library of Congress Subject headings for each item, so search here for your general topic. This search will bring up only records that are categorized with your topic in the subject area, so it will yield more exact results.

Here's an explanation of the pros and cons of each and what each search type is best used for:

Type of Search Pros Cons Best For
Title Search
  • Narrows results
  • Great for searching for journals, magazines, or periodicals by their title
  • Finds a specific book title
  • You need the EXACT title (or at least the exact beginning words of the title)
  • The catalog is confused by punctuation so leave out that colon or dash
  • If you have the exact title—this is the surest way to see if we own a book or other work (other than musical scores—visit our Scores page in the Music LibGuide to learn more)
Author Search
  • Narrows results
  • Returns only books written by that person (not anything with his/her name in it)
  • Do you have the name spelled correctly? If not, you will get no results, or the wrong author.
  • Getting a complete list of the books we own written by that author
Subject Search
  • Narrows results
  • Will lead you to other topic terms you may not have thought of
  • Returns books which are really about your topic, not just about it in a general way
  • You need to know the exact form of the subject heading
  • Very focused terms may return too few results (but you can easily browse for similar subject terms)
  • When you know what you want and you don't want anything else