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How To: Research With SingleSearch

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What is SingleSearch?

SingleSearch is a tool that helps you discover the library's resources. From a simple, unified interface it searches everything from our physical books to journal articles, electronic books, newspapers, streaming video and audio, images, and more. We have added all the records from the library's catalog to SingleSearch. It indexes citations from over 80% of the journals to which we subscribe. For a more robust subject-specific search, choose one of the subject databases from our discipline-specific research guides

Boolean Operators

By default in SingleSearch, all terms in a search are combined with the AND operator.

For example: typing age of aquarius in the search bar is the same as typing age AND of AND aquarius. (FYI: If you search for a preposition that isn't part of a particular phrase--using quotes--odd things can happen to your search results. Consider this: how many articles or books or movies have the word of in them?)

Boolean operations (AND, OR, NOT) must be entered in ALL CAPS.

See the terrific infographic on Boolean from Prince George's Community College to your right!

You can use Boolean operators in combination with phrase searching like so:
"local food" OR "sustainable eating"

Boolean operators can also be nested:

(local OR sustainable) agriculture is the same as a search for (local OR sustainable) AND agriculture

On the other hand,

local OR sustainable agriculture is the same as a search for local OR (sustainable AND agriculture)

To exclude items in search, use the NOT operator or the minus symbol before the word.

Example: animal NOT dog,  animal -dog

Wildcard Searching

When you search using SingleSearch you can replace characters in your search with one of two wildcards. You can replace any ONE character by using a question mark (?) For example, you can search for both the words Olsen and Olson by searching Ols?n.

The asterisk (*) will match any number of characters at the end of a word or within a word. Searching immigr* will search for words including immigrant, immigrate, and immigration. If you search col*r, it will search for both color and colour.

Remember though that wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search.

Field Searching

The basic search box in SingleSearch (or the keyword search box in the advanced search) will search across many fields automatically.

You can search for a term in a specific field of a record by entering the name of the field followed by a colon and the string you want to search.

(Example) author: oates

Fields that can be searched directly are:

  • Title
  • SubjectTerms
  • Author
  • Publisher
  • PublicationTitle
  • Volume
  • Issue
  • Language
  • Notes
  • ISBN
  • ISSN
  • DOI

For example, entering an ISBN, ISSN, or Call Number will bring back associated records:

Advanced Searching

The advanced search feature of SingleSearch allows you to combine several of the more powerful search techniques that have been showcased on this guide, as well as limit by date range, content-type, and language.  

Try a field search for author AND a field search for title:  

Refine, Sort, and Save

Refine your search

Use the controls on the left side of the page to refine and filter the search results by:

  • content type
  • subject terms
  • publication date
  • location

At the top left of the page, there are additional helpful options to narrow your results:

“Peer-Review” is helpful when you want only scholarly materials.


At the top of the results, there is a drop down menu with sorting options. You can sort by relevance or date. By default, search results are sorted by relevance.

Save resources from your search

You can save books, articles, media items, etc. from your search results to the temporary folder in SingleSearch. Items can be saved from multiple searches - the folder keeps your list until you close SingleSearch.  You can also export your list items to Zotero, an open-source citation management software.  See the Zotero guide here:

NOTE: Items you put into this folder will not be saved after you end your SingleSearch session. You must email, export, or print your saved items for later use.