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Basic Research

Research is a multistep process. The UMSL library provides many kinds of resources.


Clearly define your thesis statement. Trouble spots to look out for:

Too Broad - EXAMPLE: homelessness

  • Solution: add another concept to your topic which will narrow your thesis and make it more focused.
    EXAMPLE: homeless and veteran

Too Narrow - EXAMPLE: homeschooling AND socialization AND "family income"

[NOTE: to search a phrase use quotes]

  • Solution: Remove one secondary concept from your thesis.
    EXAMPLE: homeschooling AND socialization AND "family income"


Break down your thesis into concepts. Develop a list of synonyms.

EXAMPLE: homeschooling AND socialization

Other terms for socialization could be interaction, acculturation, "social behavior" or "social development".
Combining different terms gives you different terms.

Searching with Discover@UMSL

Discover@UMSL provides access to a wide variety of sources through electronic databases and the UM System’s library catalog, including journal articles, books, ebooks, media, and more. The search tool pulls results from many databases at once.

This guide offers tips on navigating the search tool. For tips on how to choose keywords and structure your search, see UMSL Library’s Effective Searching tutorial (coming soon!) and the Combining Terms page of this guide. 

 1   On the library homepage (, type in your keywords and hit enter or click the Search button. Use the fewest number of words that represent your topic—the more keywords you enter, the smaller your list of results will be (because each result must contain all words you enter). Use double quotation marks to search for exact phrases.

Search box for remote learning "middle school"


 2   Log in using your SSO ID (usually the first part of your UMSL email address) and password. 

NOTE: Discover@UMSL requires you to log in to see the full list of results and to access your library account. If you choose to search as a guest, you may be unable to read the titles of certain items; instead, you’ll see a message that reads: “Login to gain access to this result.” 

Log in to EBSCO with SSO ID and password


 3   Here are some helpful features of the results page:

 A   Limit your results by choosing filters (also called limiters) on the left side of the page. Two common examples are Academic (Peer-Reviewed) Journals and publication date. Some filters are already selected by default to help direct you to UMSL’s holdings.

 B   The icons under each title indicate at a glance what type of resource the item is. Some common examples are Academic Journal, Book, eBook, and Periodical.

 C   Usually, it’s obvious when UMSL provides access to the full text of an article (because you'll see a PDF or HTML icon below the item’s description). But sometimes, you need to click the Full Text Finder link to see if full text is available. Often it is, but if not you can click the Request this item through Interlibrary Loan link (which will appear on the Full Text Finder page) to get the article emailed to you from another library—for free! 

 D   The subject headings below the item’s citation information offer alternative search terms you can try.

 E   To see the full item description, hover your mouse over the first of the icons to the right of the title. To save the item to your personal folder (see the Saving & Retrieving Items page) to review later, click the folder icon. (If you’re looking for the auto-generated citation in a particular format—such as APA, MLA, or Chicago—click the item's title and then select the Cite link on the right side of the detailed record page.)

Helpful features on the results page (A through E)

Get help from your personal librarian

Personal Librarian 2 by Jaleh Fazelian