Search catalogues and databases

 Announcement Try our search tools LibKey Nomad and LibKey IO to help you get to articles quickly.

See more details

How to find books and e-books

Use LibrarySearch to find out what books (print and e-books), DVDs, videos, print journals, teaching materials and other items are held by the Library. Learn how to use Library search with the following guides:

For help with reading and downloading e-books, check our E-books page.

How to search using keywords

You can use the same general principles of searching for any subject database, LibrarySearch, and even Google.

  • In the search box, type your keyword e.g. football.
  • You can type in more than one keyword: you can either type them in the same box or you can type them in separate search boxes if the database has them.
Every database will have its own search tips and help section.

Combining keywords

Combine your keywords like this:

  • Football OR soccer - this search finds articles that mention either one of these subjects
  • Football AND knee injury - this search finds articles that mention both subjects together
  • If you want to find a phrase, you can often search using quotation marks, like this: “American football”

How to choose keywords

For more help with choosing keywords, when searching, follow this guidance:

  • Check the meanings of any unfamiliar words or concepts in a dictionary.
  • Identify the different concepts or elements of your topic.
  • Make a list of relevant keywords for each element.
  • think of broader (more general) and narrower (more specific) terms. Broader terms might include the context (see examples below)
  • use synonyms and related terms (other words with the same or similar meaning)
  • include any geographical keywords needed (e.g. country or city name)
  • identify and include any key authors or theorists
  • include any relevant scientific tests/theories or legislation
  • use both abbreviations and the full version (e.g. UN and United Nations)
  • consider if case studies are useful and include ‘case study’ or specific name of case study if known

Example topic: Children and gardening (in the context of occupational therapy)

The main concepts or elements are:

  • children
  • gardening
  • occupational therapy

Based on these concepts a list of keywords (search terms) can be made:

  • children, child, boys, girls, young people
  • gardening, outdoor activities, play, recreation, physical, extra-curricular
  • occupational therapy, wellbeing, benefits, health, recovery, rehabilitation

Example topic: Open space in the city - a waste of space? (in the context of urban design)

The main concepts or elements are:

  • open space
  • city
  • waste of space - is it, or isn't it?
  • urban design

Based on these concepts a list of keywords (search terms) can be made:

  • open space, park, square, green
  • city, urban, town
  • waste of space, land use, shortage, housing, economic benefit, recreation, health, wellbeing, leisure, social, community, crime prevention
  • urban design, layout, sustainable, planning, regeneration

How to search databases for journal articles

As well as the multidisciplinary content in LibrarySearch, you can find more journal articles on a topic in a database.

All databases will give you the bibliographic information (e.g. author, title, journal name) about an article, some will give you an abstract (brief summary) of the article, and some will also give you the full text as well.

To find the most appropriate database for your topic, go to your course resource help page to see which databases are suggested by your Academic Liaison Librarian.

LibKey Nomad, search assistant

Try our new browser plugin, Nomad, to get direct access to journal articles from a variety of websites. If your research journey results in an ‘access denied’ dead end on a publisher's site, Nomad can help. Nomad will work from your browser and beat the paywall by taking you to a library approved copy of the article. Nomad also displays clear links to articles within databases like PubMed and Wikipedia.

What is Nomad?

Nomad is a browser plugin that gets you library provided copies of articles you find on the web.

Nomad offers:

  • Direct access to PDF and HTML articles
  • Fast and precise linking from thousands of publisher's websites
  • Open access content where subscriptions are not available.

How do I get Nomad?

Nomad is available for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Brave and Vivaldi.

Follow our easy to read pdf instructions to install Nomad.

LibKey IO, instant search using DOI or PMID

Use this search for quick access to articles using DOI or PMID identifiers.

  • Put the DOI or PMID in the search box
  • Set your preferred format, PDF, Article Link or both
  • Get your article
  • If no access is available will direct you to other library access options.
LibKey logo

Lookup a journal article by DOI or PMID

Want to bookmark the direct article search? Link to the Brookes LibKey IO page .

Get help

Library staff are always ready to help you with guidance on how to search for and use resources. Visit the Library Help Zone, JHB Level 1 (Library Enquiry Desks at other Brookes libraries).

+44 (0) 1865 483156