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Database Help at the Cypress College Library

Guide to using databases at the Cypress College Library

Start Using Proquest Central

Steps to using Proquest Databases

Step 1: Logging in & selecting databases. 

Proquest Central 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. Within Proquest Central, there are several other proquest databases, which you are also able to search within, individually. To find all the Proquest databases, search Proquest on the Library's A-Z Database page. 

Searching Proquest in the Library's A-Z Database page. Page shows a list of 52 Proquest Databases, circling the search box and an arrow pointing at the results list.

Feel free to browse this list and select databases that might be relevant to your research. If you're not sure, start with Proquest Central.

Once you login, you will be directed to the Proquest Central advanced search page. 

Proquest Central Advanced Search homepage, with 2 search boxes and a number of options to limit your search.


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" : 

Proquest Central search boxes with the terms "college students" AND "success"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.  When you submit your search, Proquest will translate your search into a search string. To modify your original search, click on "Modify search", which is located near the search box. Once you click on "Modify search", you will be taken to the original advanced search screen. 

Proquest search demonstration of "(college students) AND success", highlighting Modify Search with a circle.

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 within the "Quick look" section of each article. The "Quick look" icon will popup when you mouse-over the article. (Quick look is not available If using a mobile device. Instead, you will have to click on the item itself.)

Proquest search results, with "Quick Look" feature circled.

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.

Proquest :Quick Look" example with the subject terms circled

Notice how "community colleges", "college students", and "academic achievement" are listed as subject terms? Since we have a high number or results (100,898 in this example), we can modify this search to use those terms and search them as subject terms. Change the "Anywhere" dropdown to "All subjects & indexing - SU" next to each term in your advanced search area. In this example, our search results were reduced from 100,898 down to 2,581 -- still too many, but a huge improvement! Continue adding the search filters below to make your search results more manageable.

Proquest advanced search demonstration, searching keywords as subject terms, keywords and subject terms area are circled

Date & Resource Type

Proquest toolbar with full-text, date limits, & source type highlighted with squares and arrowsTwo 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. 

Full Text should always be checked, so that you only display results that the Cypress College Library has full-text access to. 

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...

  • Locate the Quick Look icon when you mouse over each article (not available in mobile).  Clicking on this icon will gives you more details about the article, including the abstract and subject terms.
  • Subject terms will tell you exactly what the subject of the article is, so always read these to get a good general idea. 
  • 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 Proquest, the abstract (summary) and Subject terms are squared/highlighted

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. This page features several ways to save your work, as well as a section for further exploration, titled "Suggested Sources" -- just make sure to only use source suggestions that are current/relevant, as sometimes these suggestions can be out of date. 

Example of detailed record page in Proquest, highlighting full text, saving options, and suggested sources


To retrieve the full article, click on Full Text (HTML) or Full Text - PDF, which maintains the formatting of the article, as it was originally published. 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: Download PDF, Cite, Email, Print, and more.

Proquest save options: Download PDF, Cite, Email, Print, All Options 

Clicking on "All Options" opens a new window with additional tools.

All save options menu in Proquest

A few popular options within the "All Options" menu include:

The permalink is the URL listed on top of this tool menu. It 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. 

Download PDF will download the article to the device you are using/saving to. 

Cite will give you a machine generated citation of the article (which should be reviewed for mistakes, as it is machine-generated).

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

Print allows you to print the full article. 

Save to My Research/Add to Selected folder allows you to save the article to your account in Proquest; however, you will first need to create a personal Proquest account. If you save articles using this option without creating a personal Proquest account, your folder will not be saved.

Google Drive/Microsoft OneDrive allows you to save the article directly to your personal Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive account.

Citation Export tools allow you to export the article's citation directly to your personal citation manager account. You must first have an account with one of the tools listed. Cypress College students have access to NoodleTools, through the library databases page.