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Database Help at the Cypress College Library

Guide to using databases at the Cypress College Library

Start using EBSCOhost

Steps to using EBSCOhost

Step 1: Logging in & selecting databases. 

EbscoHost can be found on the library's Database page. It is one of our most popular databases, because it covers a wide range of discipline areas. Once you are logged into the system, you will see a page that lists all of the EBSCOhost subscriptions that Cypress College has available to you. 

Choose Databases Page in EBSCOhost, a list of specialized databases to choose from.

Feel free to browse this list and select databases that might be relevant to your research. If you're not sure, feel free to bypass this step and just click continue. Academic Search Complete and MasterFILE Complete are the default databases that will be selected and are great choices to start with.

EBSCOhost Choose Databases page, featuring continue button and default databases selected

Once you click continue, you will be directed to the EBSCOhost search page. The text at the top of the search box will tell you which databases you are searching and give you an option to go back and "Choose Databases." This provides you with the initial list of databases when you logged in. You can always browse this list and experiment with any databases that might be relevant, as each database has a unique collection of articles specializing in any given subject area.

EBSCOhost Search box


Step 2: Searching & using keywords. 

Enter your keywords into the search box(es). Keywords are simple short phrases or words to describe your topic. For example, if your research question is "What makes college students successful?" some of your keywords might be "college students" and "success" : 

Example of searching "college students" and "success" in EBSCOhost database.Starting with general/broad keywords will give you a good overview of the results available, but it is likely that you will get too many results. If that's the case, you can quickly narrow down your results with more specific keywords or by using subject terms and other strategies for refining your search, as defined in step 3. 

Step 3: Refining the search. 

There are a few ways to refine a search. This can be done by using more specific keywords and subject terms, also by defining dates and resource type. 

More specific keywords

Let's use the example above with "college students" and "success" -- is there a way we can make this more specific to our exact research?  If your research question is "What makes college students successful?" Try to define the exact type of college student you are researching and the exact type of success. 

  • Instead of searching "college students" you can search... "community college students", "low income college students", "LGBTQ+ college students", "Black college students", etc.
  • Instead of searching "success" you can search... "academic success", "student attitudes", "goals", "time management", "mental health", "career development", etc. 

Subject terms

After using the specific keywords of your choice, browse the results paying close attention to the subject terms listed below each article. Subject terms are keywords that define the main subjects of the article. The database has a defined list of subject terms, so it's most efficient to model your keywords after the subject terms that the database is already using. In the example below, we used the keyword of "academic success," but the database has a defined subject term of "academic achievement," so we will get better results if we modify our keyword to "academic achievement" as well.

Example of search in EBSCOhost database, highlighting the subject terms area

Notice how both "community college students" and "academic achievement" are listed as subject terms? Since we have a high number or results (302 in this example), we can also change the "Select a Field (optional)" dropdown menus for each one of these terms (or one at a time, if the results get too narrow) to the "SU Subject Terms" option. Doing this reduced our results by more than half:

EBSCOhost search example, searching "community college students" and "academic achievement" as Subject Terms, highlighting the "SU Subject Terms" area with a red square outline and the word "achievement" underlined


Date & Resource Type

EBSCOhost toolbar with Date limits circled & Source Type Underlined Two very effective ways to limit your search are by date and resource type.


Generally, your professors would like you to use articles published within the past 5-10 years. Anything older than that can be considered outdated. A quick way to narrow your results down is to use refine the date range to hide results that are too outdated.  There will be times, such as researching historical information, when you will want to see articles regardless of the date range. Check with your professor if you are unsure. 


Resource Type

Did your professor specify to use a particular type of article? Are you required to use academic journal articles (also known as, peer-reviewed articles), magazines, or newspapers? If you are looking for a particular type of article, you can use this feature to select only the type of article you are looking for. 

Step 4: Navigating results & saving articles

Navigating results

Once you have a list of around 30 or less results, you can start vetting these results for your research. Save time by...

  • Subject terms will tell you exactly what the subject of the article is, so always read these to get a good general idea. 
  • Locate the magnifying glass/paper icon next to each article listed magnifying glass on paper icon from the EBSCOhost databaseclicking on this icon will open a popup window that gives you more details about the article, including the abstract.
  • Read the abstract. An abstract is a short summary of the article, usually one paragraph. Start by reading the abstract to determine if this article is going to be the right one for your research. Articles can be long, so this will save you a lot of time. 

Example of article information in EBSCOhost

Saving articles

From the results list, click on the article title that you would like to save. You will be directed to the "detailed record" page:

Example of detailed record page in EBSCOhost


To retrieve the full article, click on PDF Full Text or HTML Full TextPDF Full Text maintains the formatting of the article, as it was originally published. HTML Full Text removes the original formatting and also comes with an option to listen to the article, with an audio player embedded within the detailed record page. 

To save the full article, you have a number of options located in the Tools sidebar. 

Tool bar in EbscoHostGoogle Drive allows you to save the article directly to your personal Google Drive account.

Add to folder allows you to save the article to a folder in EBSCO; however, you will first need to create a personal EBSCO account. If you save articles to a folder without creating a personal EBSCO account, your folder will not be saved.

Print allows you to print the full article. 

Email allows you to email yourself the article - one of the more popular choices for saving amongst our students!

Save allows you to save the article directly to your computer desktop or USB.

Permalink gives you the permanent link for the article's detailed record page, so you can easily access it again. Please note, you will have to be currently registered at Cypress College and login again to access it.