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Capstone & Thesis Research

This guide walks you through steps you might take to complete your major paper or project.

Selecting a database

In Library databases, you may find:

  • scholarly journal articles -- often required for university-level papers and projects
  • trade publication articles -- usually focused on a specific industry
  • 'popular' magazine and newspaper articles
  • industry ratios and reports
  • company profiles
  • and more 

To find a database, use our main database page or the research guides by academic department to select your area of study. Based on the description, select databases that seem most relevant to your topic. It can be helpful to search databases from other disciplines as well. For instance, a topic from human resources might benefit from articles found in a psychology database (e.g. PsycInfo) as well as a business database (e.g. Business Source Complete).

For example, here are two of our most popular databases:

Searching a database for articles

Try a few search terms relating to your topic. Start with the most important two or three.  Often, it is necessary to change terms slightly or use synonyms to get the most relevant articles. If you get too many results, consider adding a search term to make your search more specific. Likewise, if you only receive a handful of results, broadening your search by removing a search term, or searching for synonyms, might result in a more successful search.

Let's use the following thesis statement as a search example:

The benefits to companies whose employees use social media at work outweigh the negatives.

search in Business Source databaseCombine your most important terms using AND

social media AND employees

Found too few, add synonyms using OR

(social media OR facebook) AND employees

Found too much?  Add another concept using another AND

(social media OR facebook) AND employees AND productivity


Search tip: Need to search for variant endings of a word?  Use the truncation (or wildcard) character.  In most library databases, that is the asterisk or star character.  For example, manag* will find manage, management, manager, etc.


Limiting your search

Most library databases make it easy to limit your search to more recent articles and/or types of articles that are appropriate for your assignment.


Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar is a corner of the search engine devoted to scholarly journals. It can be helpful in finding sources that are available on the open web, which might not show up in library databases. It can be particularly useful if your topic is interdisciplinary (spanning more than one discipline). For instance, if you are writing about employee training, you might consider exploring education and psychology publications as well as those that focus on human resources.

Google Scholar has a setting which will prompt it to alert you when a search result is available through the library. To achieve this, go to Google Scholar and click on Settings in the upper right corner of your screen screen. Select library links and search for Eden-Webster Library System. Click to check the box next to this option and click the blue Save button.

Watch and learn with Webster U. Library online presentations: