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Search Tips

There is no single tool that includes all Boston College Libraries collections and resources in one search, so use different tools based on your needs:

Holmes Quick Search

a quick, broad search of books, articles, and other materials in BC collections and beyond

What is Holmes best for?
  • Starting a search when you don't know much about the topic yet and want an idea of what is out there
  • Finding a specific article online when you know the article title (if not found online, search the journal title in Holmes)
What's in Holmes?
  • Journal articles from a variety of sources, though not all of the articles available through BC Libraries
  • Books and other digital and physical items in the BC collections
  • Other web-based materials
What's not in Holmes?
  • Holmes doesn't include all journal articles, so if you need to do a more in-depth search on a topic, you'll want to go further with Research Databases
Holmes Search Tips
  • To narrow your search by material type, subject, date, author, and other facets, use the links on the left under Refine My Results
  • Add quotation marks around a term to search it as a phrase instead of as individual words
  • Select "Additional Options" to request an item via interlibrary loan if not available at BC
  • If you know the book title you're looking for, Holmes will help you find your item with fewer clicks


Research Databases

in-depth, refined tools for finding articles and other sources in specific subjects

What are Research Databases best for?
  • Finding scholarly journal articles in specific disciplines
  • Finding magazine, newspaper, trade publication and other popular articles
What's in Research Databases?
  • Interdisciplinary and subject-specific collections of journal articles, data, archival material, and more
  • Powerful search capabilites to focus and narrow your search
With over 600 different databases, where do I start?
  • If you know where you'd like to start, just go to any database alphabetically or by subject, but if you're not sure where to begin, try using the Research Guides


a quick search of what journals are available electronically through the BC Libraries

What is the E-journals tool best for?
  • Looking up the title of any journal, magazine, or newspaper to see if it is available online through the BC Libraries
Is this searching for articles?
  • No, the e-journal tool shows you what journals we have available electronically, and you can then search within a specific journal for individual articles
  • If you're looking for a broad search for articles on a topic, try Research Databases or Holmes, which index articles from many different journals in one search
Are these all of the journals available at BC?
  • More and more of the journals available at BC are electronic, but certainly not all—we still have many journals available in print or microform.
  • Search Holmes for a definitive list of what journals we have available and in what format (print, electronic, microform)


Research Guides

sources, strategies, and support from your Boston College Librarians

What are Research Guides best for?
  • Showing you good starting places for your focused, scholarly research, organized by broad and narrow subject and even specific courses
  • Helping you find subject specialists and other contacts in the Libraries to help with your research
How can the subject specialist help me?
  • We have subject specialist librarians for every field of study at Boston College
  • They are eager to help in your search—clarifying your topic, developing search strategies, helping you to access materials and BC and elsewhere, and offering on-going support as you progress in your research