George Mason University

Search a Library Database

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Step 1: From the University Libraries home page (, locate Research Tools and click on Research Databases. This will take you to the Database Portal.

Step 2: Click on the subject heading Basic Topics.

Step 3: Click on the database Academic Search Complete.

Step 4: Start by plugging in one or two appropriate keywords from your research topic. For example, if your topic is: “Many college students work while going to school. What effect does college students’ working have on their grades?” you might plug “college students,” “working,” and “grades” into the search fields. (For assistance with narrowing broad topics see these suggestions.)

ASC Limit Results box

Step 5: If you receive more than 30 or 40 hits, you may want to rethink your search terms. Try using synonyms, e.g. “undergraduates” instead of “college students” or “grade point average” instead of “grades.” Also, remember to consider alternate spellings of your search terms, e.g. “labour” instead of “labor”; abbreviations, e.g. “g.p.a.” instead of “grade point average” ; or multiple forms of a word, e.g. “working,” “workers,” or “workplace” instead of “work.”

You might also try using the “Limit your results” field on the right-hand side of the screen.

This feature allows you to search only articles published between certain dates, or scholarly, peer-reviewed articles, etc. Once you’ve limited your hits to a manageable number (ten or 20), scan the abstracts of each article to determine whether or not it meets your needs.

Step 6: When you find a potentially useful article, click on “PDF Full Text” to download the full text. By clicking on one of the icons at the top left-hand corner of the screen, you may print, save, share, or attach the document to an e-mail. If you do not see "PDF Full Text," look for the Mason Link button.

For more assistance with searching databases, Ask a Librarian.