Student using a laptop in the library

Making the most of NUsearch

Go beyond the basics - use other search features to improve your results

What you can do  |  Advanced searching  |  Database search  |  Find related reading  |  More search features

What you can do

NUsearch provides more search options and lots of features to help you make the most your search:

  • Advanced search - switch from basic to advanced search at any time to build a more focused search
  • Database search - find and access databases relevant to your subject
  • Find related reading - use citation trails, virtual bookshelf, and related reading
  • Other search features - expand beyond library collections, personalise results and use tags

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Advanced searching

When trying to find information on a specific topic you can often get too many results.

NUsearch will return results that contain all the words you type. To search more efficiently and save time there are lots of easy search techniques that can help. Here are a few examples: 

  • Using quotation marks to search for an exact phrase e.g. "global warming"
  • Using AND, OR and NOT to combine and exclude words and phrases
  • Search for words with different endings using an asterisk e.g. comput*

Advanced search helps you to use these and more options to quickly and easily build a more focused search:

Get started with Advanced search

More Advanced search options


Want to learn more?

If you are interested in finding out more about planning your search, identifying keywords and other search techniques, try our search skills tutorials:

Studying effectively: Search skills  Information skills support


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Database search

You can use databases to find research on a specific topic.

Subject databases are subject-based collections of published research. They usually contain journal articles, but can also provide conference papers, newspaper articles, statistics, ebooks and more. They can be:

  • Bibliographic databases - provide resource references, such as a summary or abstract
  • Full text databases - provide full text access to the resources found

Watch our video on using the database search to find and browse databases relevant to you.

Guidance on searching databases

See our subject guides for help using key databases in your subject area.

Subject guides


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Find related reading

Once you've found a resource that is exactly what you want, NUsearch can help you find related resources to expand your search.

To find more resources try using:

  • Citation trails to find related articles
  • Related reading for recommended articles and books
  • Virtual bookshelf to find books on the shelves nearby
  • Information in the full resource record
Research icon

Citation trails

Learn how to use citation trails to find other relevant articles, which are either citing the article or cited in the article you have found.


Related reading and Virtual bookshelf

In the full resource record look out for a Related reading panel on the right-hand side of the record.

This will appear where NUsearch has found books or articles related to the resource you have found. It can be a good way to find further resources of interest. 

Screenshot of a book record highlighting Related reading to the right-hand side

For physical items, you can also use the Virtual bookshelf to browse nearby books on our library shelves. You will see this under the Find in library section.

Screenshot of Virtual bookshelf showing five books


Details and Explore sections

In the full resource record you'll see two sections that provide more information about a resource and can help you find similar resources:


Author names, subjects, series, classmarks and other fields act as clickable search fields, which allow you to run a search on that field to find related resources.

Screenshot of the Details section of a book record with blue clickable links for author, subjects and classmark

For example, if you clicked on the author name Weir, Jamie you would would see a list of all other items written by that author.


Provides interactive features, which give you more in-depth information about books, videos or music you have found. They also contain lots of links to find other related works.

Where additional information is available you'll find the Explore section at the bottom of a resource record.

The types of features you may see include: summaries, author profiles, look inside and table of contents, other books in a series, reviews, awards and more.

Screenshot of the About the author section for Agatha Christie

For an example of what you might see try looking at: Rebecca / Daphne du Maurier


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More search features

Other functionality that you might like to try:

  • You can expand your search beyond library collections to get more results
  • Personalise your results to particular subjects you are interested in
  • Use tags to help organise and link common search results together and search for tags that others have created

Expand beyond library collections

All the results you see in NUsearch are for resources that we have online access to, plus everything we hold in our libraries.

Clicking on Expand beyond library collections increases the number of hits from your search and introduces to your results list resources that may be highly relevant and useful, but which we don’t have online access to.

Screenshot showing the Expand beyond library collection option below Filter my results

Don’t think of this as a dead end, though. You can click on the Check availability link to see ways for you to get hold of the article, book chapter or other resource that you need.

Screenshot of an article result with the Check availability link highlighted

If we don’t have the print version at the University of Nottingham, you can check for an open access version, apply for an interlibrary loan, or suggest a book for purchase using the options provided.

Check availability section of full article record giving options for interlibrary loan, suggestion for purchase and check for open access versionggestion


Personalise results

To personalise your results, click on the Personalise slidebar directly above your results list and pick up to five subject areas.

NUsearch will adjust its ranking and present you with an adapted set of results weighted in favour of the subjects you have chosen.

Screenshot showing the Personalise button highlighted at the top the results list

Screenshot of the Personalise your results screen with fives subjects choosen out of the subject areas provided.

All the subject areas you’ve chosen appear above the list of filter options on the right-hand side, and you can edit your subject choices at any time. If you want to, you can also personalise your results even further by checking the box to prefer newer material.

Screenshot showing personalised results for a search, highlighting the personalised slidebar and personalised results subjects

If you want to clear the personalisation options from your search, just click on the Personalise slidebar again to set it to the off position.

If you are signed in NUsearch will remember all of your personalisation choices and re-apply them when you turn on the Personalise slidebar.

If however you are just searching as a guest, personalisation only lasts for the duration of your search session and is cleared when you close down NUsearch in your browser. 



Tags are words or phrases that you can assign to results to help organise and link them. The tags that you create and assign to items will appear to others.

Choose Tags from the NUsearch top menu to look for labels that others have used to link common search results together, and also view tags that you have created.

Screenshot of NUsearch main menu highlighting the three dots icon to see more menu options

Screenshot of NUsearch main menu showing Tags menu option highlighted

You can search for tags and view the most popular and recently added tags. If you are signed in you will also see recent tags you have created.

Screenshot of the NUsearch Tags search

Clicking on a tag name opens the Advanced search page and shows you a list of all the records that have been tagged with that term. You can then readjust your search query using the other drop-down options if you want to.

To create a tag:

  1. Sign in to NUsearch.
  2. Run a search and click on a result to view the full details.
  3. In the Tags section click Add your own tags.

    Screenshot showing the Add your own tags option in Tags section of a resource record

  4. Type in the name of your tag and it will be added to the record. NUsearch remembers all of the tags you have created and will give you the option to pick one of them before you start typing a new one.

     Screenshot of a tag added for "Derbyshire churches"  

To delete the tags you have created:

  1. Sign into NUsearch.
  2. Choose Tags from the NUsearch top menu.
  3. Click on one of the tags you have created to see all of the records that have been tagged.

    Screenshow of Tags search highlighting "My recent tags" section
  4. Click on a result to view the full details. From here you can delete the tag.

     Screenshot of a tag with the option to remove a personal tag highlighted

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