• Choose Your Search Parameters
  • Build Your Search
  • Search!
  • Review Your Results
  • Evaluate Your Results
  • Narrow Your Search
  • Expand Your Search
  • Get More Relevant Results
  • Save, Export and Print Articles
  • Request Books and Media
  • Still Need Help?

Please press NEXT to continue.

Welcome to the Guide on the Side for Search@UW! Search@UW provides convenient access to online articles and to all the books and physical resources of Polk Library and the UW System.

Use the arrows below to progress through the tutorial, or click the links to jump ahead to the section you need.

Choose Your Search Parameters

Build Your Search


Review Your Results

Evaluate Your Results

Narrow Your Search

Expand Your Search

Get More Relevant Results

Save, Export and Print Articles

Request Books and Media

Choose Your Search Parameters

Using the library homepage to your right, look at the Articles, Books and More tab near the top of the page. You will enter your search terms in the search box.

The drop-down menu to the right of the search box allows you to choose what type of resources will appear in your results. Everything will return online articles, books and media from Polk Library, as well as books and media held at other UW System libraries. Articles will return online articles, reference entries, and some e-books. You may also choose to search only Books & Media (UW Oshkosh), or widen your search to Books & Media (UW System) -- these choices will return books, e-books and other media from either Polk Library's collection, or all the UW System collections. Your final option, UW Digital Collections, will give you results from online special collections, archives, and historical society collections.

If you’re working from off-campus, you may be prompted to enter your NetID and password.

Build Your Search

The first step in any search is to identify your search terms. If you are searching for a specific item, you can search for its title and/or author

If you are looking for books or articles for a research assignment, start by brainstorming keywords. Keywords are important words or phrases that describe your research topic.

Most research topics are complex, and contain at least two main concepts. Think of 2-3 words or a short phrase to describe the main concepts in your research topic.

If you need help identifying keywords for your search, try our Guided Search Builder for help.


Type your search terms into the search box. If you're searching for a phrase, put quotation marks around those words to keep them together.

It’s better to start with fewer keywords, and add more as you go if you need to narrow down your results.

Click the blue Search button.

Review Your Results

Next, look at your results. Depending on what you chose from the dropdown menu in your initial search, you may see articles, books and media in your results list. The icons in your results list will tell you at a glance what type of source you have.

If you see a “Multiple Versions” icon in your results list, this means that several items with the same title have been grouped together. Click the item’s title or the “View # Versions” link on the far right to see the items that have been grouped together. They may be various editions of the same book, book and e-book versions of the same title, books and films with the same title (like Harry Potter), or other types of media.

Many items in your results list will appear with colored dots. Green dots mean the item is available, either to view online or to check out from the library. Orange dots mean that the item may be available. Gray dots mean that full-text is not available online, or that the physical item is checked out. If you would like to request an article with a gray dot, click Services to place an interlibrary loan request; to request a book with a gray dot, click Request to place a hold.

If a source is available to view online, you can click the item’s title or the View Online link to see the full text. You can then click Open Source in a New Window if you want to read it full-screen. 

Evaluate Your Results

If you are happy with your results, click here to learn how to save articles and request items.

How many results did you get? If you got more results than you have time to browse, you may want to narrow your search – click here for tips.

Not enough results? Click here for tips to expand your search.

Are your results relevant to your topic? If not, you may need to try different keywords. You can also use Topics to find more relevant results – click here to see how.

Narrow Your Search

Did you get too many results? If your results are relevant to your topic, you can try narrowing by resource type, creation date, author, journal title, or location.

On the far left of your results is a column of options to Refine My Results.

Click on the links to select how to refine your results. If you want to choose multiple options within a category, click More Options, and click in the checkboxes to Include or Exclude the ones you want.

When you're happy with your results, click here to learn how to save articles and request items.

Expand Your Search

Didn’t get as many results as you’d hoped? First, look at your search terms. Is everything spelled correctly? If you misspelled a word, you may see a “Did You Mean…?” suggestion below your search box. You can click that link to re-do your search with the new spelling.

How many search terms did you use? Using more than 2 or 3 words or phrases in your search can make your search too narrow. Try removing one of your search terms and searching again.

Are there other words/synonyms that could describe the concepts in your topic? Try replacing one or more of your search terms with a different word, or click here to learn how to use Topics.

Did you limit your search by resource type or creation date? Try your search again and remove or modify that limiter.

When you're happy with your results, click here to learn how to save articles and request items.

Get More Relevant Results

One way to get more relevant results is by using Search@UW’s Topics in your search. Topics are terms which are used within databases to describe what a source is about, or its subject.

Look at the limiter for Topic in the left column. These are suggested subject areas related to your search. Clicking one of those links will narrow your results to only those results with that topic term assigned to them. You can choose multiple topics by clicking More Options and selecting the checkboxes to include or exclude the topics you want.

Be aware that using Topics to narrow your search may sharply reduce the number of results. You may want to choose several similar or related topics from More Options, rather than choosing a single topic, to make sure you are seeing all the relevant results.

When you're happy with your results, click here to learn how to save articles and request items.

Save, Export and Print Articles

If you’ve found an article in your results list you want to save, you can save it to a list, e-mail it, print it, or export it to RefWorks. First, click View Online. Then, on the far right of the window, click Send To and choose what you want to do from the dropdown menu.

“Add to e-Shelf” allows you to create a list within Search@UW of saved items. You can add an item to your e-shelf from the Send To menu, or by clicking the star to the left of an item’s title. If you are signed in to Search@UW, your e-shelf will be saved indefinitely; if you are not signed in, your items will remain on the e-shelf list until the end of your browser session. Click Sign In at the top right of the browser window to sign into Search@UW with your NetID.

Click the arrow below to learn how to request items.

Request Books and Media

If you have found a book or other physical media you want to check out, you will have several options. If the item is held at UW Oshkosh and is available, you can request the item with a Call Slip to have it waiting for you at the Circulation Desk. Click Request, choose Call Slip, and select your copy.

If the item is unavailable at UW Oshkosh, you can place a Hold on the item so you can check it out when it is returned. Click Request, and choose Hold.

If you have chosen a physical item from another UW System campus, you will have the option to request it through Universal Borrowing. Click Request, then select UB Request. You may be prompted to sign in with your NetID. Select the Library, Item, and Pickup Location using the dropdown boxes. If you do not see a pickup library or location, you are not allowed to pick up a UB request from that location.

Still Need Help?

Do you need additional help finding what you need? Ask a friendly librarian! Click here for our phone number, email address and 24/7 chat services.

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