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Search techniques for finding articles

Search different spellings and plural/singular

An asterisk (*) or truncation symbols means I don't care how it ends  e.g. sprain*

Search phrases

Use quotation marks "" to search for a particular phrase  e.g. "risk taking"

Proximity searching

Proximity searching lets you search for two words near each other e.g. ankle N2 sprain* will look for those words within two words of each other in any order

Using AND/OR

Avoid typing sentences into the search box. Always use AND or OR between different ideas:

  • AND (if you want all the words to appear in your search results) e.g. hazing AND sport*
  • OR (if you don't care which word shows up) e.g. college OR university

Locating academic articles

If you want to limit your search to peer-reviewed academic articles, remember to select the "peer-reviewed" filter in the MRU LibrarySearch or any academic database you use.

Subject headings vs keywords

Keywords Subject terms

Natural language words that describe your topic

Pro: Easy to combine terms

Pro: Can search for them anywhere in the source

Con: Can be difficult to narrow results

Con: Might retrieve irrelevant results

Pre-defined vocabulary that describes your topic

Pro: Can quickly rule out irrelevant sources

Pro: Often retrieves more accurate results

Con: Harder to combine terms (need to know which terms exist)

You can improve your search results by combining the keywords you brainstorm with the subject headings each database uses to categorize articles. These headings or tags are added to articles to make them easier to find and group.

In Medline/PubMed, the headings are called MESH

In CINAHL, the headings are called CINAHL headings

In SportDiscus, the headings can be found in the Thesaurus.

Using MRU LibrarySearch


The following videos demonstrate how to find resources through the MRU LibrarySearch


Other library search tips

Recommended databases

APA citation

The key aspects of an APA citation

  • Author (who wrote the source)
  • Date (when the source was published)
  • Title (the title of the source)
  • Source (where you located the source you found. Eg. book, academic journal, newspaper, blog, website, etc.)

Getting citation information from an academic article

Its recommended that you retried the full PDF of an article to get the relevant citation information

Example article


Full APA citation



Current 7th Edition APA Resources

These resources refer to the current 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). Starting in January 2020, we recommend using these 7th edition resources unless your instructor specifies that they will be using the 6th edition in their class.

Helpful sites

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Erik Christiansen

Phone: 403.440.5168
Office: EL4423D
Website Skype Contact: egchrist