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Communication 101 - Toth - Spring 2021

What is OneSearch?

As we saw on the previous page of this guide, your best bet for finding sources for your new information speech is to start searching at the Valley College Library website.

Usually, when you come to the Library website to conduct research, you will start by using OneSearch -- the big search box at the top of the homepage. OneSearch is like the "Google of the Library" in that it's a single search box that helps you find almost any kind of source you might need for a college assignment, or even if you’re just curious about a topic.

OneSearch is different than Google, though, in that it gives you access to premium content that's more likely to be useful for college-level research. Many of your results will include sources that aren’t freely available on the open web and many sources have been selected by professional librarians because of their quality. In OneSearch you’ll find books, scholarly journal articles, documentary films, newspaper and magazine articles, and more. The LAVC Library has paid the subscription fees for these sources so you have free access to this premium content! Check out the short video [1:30] below for a brief introduction to OneSearch:

How to Search in OneSearch

Searching in OneSearch works differently than Googling. Here are some things to know in order to find what you need in OneSearch:

1. Use Keywords: You’ll get better results by only putting the most important words that relate to your topic in the search box; we call these keywords. Here are the most important things to remember:

  • Don’t search an entire sentence or type in a question. For example, don't type "assessment of the lifespan of coral reefs around the world against the growing problem of dumping billions of tons of human waste into the oceans" into the search box! Even though those are the exact words from your assignment prompt, they won't give you good results.
  • Instead, start your search with just 1-3 keywords and then adjust as needed. For example, a good starting search for this assignment would be: coral reefs and pollution. Later, if you'd like, you can narrow your results down by source type, or add more specific search terms and parameters in an advanced search. For now, though, let's keep our search pretty general and see what happens.

2. Scan Results: At the results list, scroll through at least the first 20-30 results and ask yourself, "Am I on the right track here? Do these seem like relevant books and articles?" Pay attention to interesting titles, and click on them to read summaries. There's no need to read things in-depth at this point -- you can always do that later -- right now, you're just scanning results and reading titles and summaries (sometimes called abstracts) to see if you're on the right track. Take note of things like commonly used terms, especially ones that keep appearing in relevant books and articles -- you might use them in future searches.

3. Spelling Counts: OneSearch isn't as good as Google at correcting your spelling. If you’re using keywords and you get zero or very few results, check your spelling to make sure you got it right.

Video: LAVC OneSearch Demo [2:43]

Let's take a quick look at a search in OneSearch. Notice how the librarian keeps her search simple with just a few keywords and how she narrows down her results by date and source type. More help on narrowing down your results is located below the video.


OneSearch Filters

In the video above, the librarian used some of the filters on the left-hand side of the OneSearch results screen in order to narrow down her results. Below, we highlight 5 of the most useful OneSearch filters:Screenshot of OneSearch left side filters

  1. Online: Filtering your results to "online" means that you'll only see resources that are available in a digital format that you can access from anywhere. This includes articles, ebooks, streaming media, and more.
  2. Scholarly Journals: Sometimes your assignments will require scholarly sources and some instructors might say they want you to use peer-reviewed or refereed sources (like Prof. Toth wants for your new information speech).  If you need scholarly sources, use the handy Scholarly Journals filter to quickly find them.
  3. Resource Type: This tool allows you to look at specific types of sources (articles, journals, books, newspaper articles, etc.). Choose one source type or a few to explore specific types of information. Note: "Articles" includes both magazines and scholarly journals.
  4. Newspapers Search: OneSearch results will give you some newspaper articles, but they don't include all the Library's newspaper databases. If you're interested in a more comprehensive news search (particularly if you are writing about current events, politics, or controversial topics), you may want to try a separate "Newspapers search" by clicking this limiter.
  5. Publication Date: Use this tool to show only sources published in the date range you’ve identified. This can help you quickly avoid outdated or irrelevant information.


Move on to the next page of this guide for even more search tips!

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