Academic Search Complete is one of many EBSCO databases, and is an excellent general use database with materials covering a range of topics. Our multidatabase search is also based on EBSCO, so learning how to use this database will give you a good foundation for using many others.
The first thing you will notice when opening Academic Search Complete are the various search fields.
By default, keywords will search all text. Other options, such as title searches or subject term searches can be selected from the drop-down menus and allow you to search for your keywords appearing in only the title, or only within the various subject terms defining the various articles in the database. You can add additional search fields using the "+" button next to the last search field in your list. If you want to exclude certain terms from your search, you can also use the drop-down menu on the left-hand side of each search bar to "NOT" which will indicate you want results that do not include a given term.
There are also a number of other advanced search options that you can take advantage of when using Academic Search Complete. Highlighted below are a few limiters that we highly recommend applying when using this database. Those include limiting your results to full text only (which will ensure that your results include only materials that you can access immediately), to scholarly (peer reviewed) journals only (which is a common requirement for sources in academic papers), and to certain date ranges (again, a common requirement from professors will be to find only the most recent research).
These various limiters can also be applied or removed once you have already made an initial search as well. In Academic Search Complete, these various limiters will be available on the left-hand side of the list of your search results. Below is an example highlighting the use of some of the various search fields and limiters to return a focused number of results.
Once you find an article that looks good to you, click on the blue title text to open the item record. You will see something like this:
There are a number of useful fields of information within the item record. Firstly, on the upper left side of the screen will be an icon and link to download the full text of your article, if it is available. On the far right side of the screen will be some similar options allowing you to send a copy of the article to yourself in an email, to save the permalink (a stable URL) for the record of the item within the database, and to create a quick citation of the item in multiple varying formats (though you should always double-check that the citation is correct). You can also find other useful information like a link to the source (which would allow you to see similar or related items that were published in the same journal), view subject terms that were used to define this item (which can be helpful in finding further keywords to expand your search later), and read an abstract (or summary) of the article which will help you to determine whether an article is actually relevant to your needs!