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The University of Tampa Macdonald-Kelce Library

Summon, A Library Discovery Service

Explore library resources with one search box (like Google!)

What You Are Searching

How can you search better? One way is to increase your understanding of the differences between:

  • web search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go)
  • stand-alone library database (e.g. Academic Search Complete, Jstor, Web of Science)
  • library-provided discovery service (e.g. Summon)


Search Engines:
Search engines such as: Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others find public information about people, companies, news, photos, and more. While they will find some scholarly articles, many are abstract only and others may be biased or unreliable.

Here are several scholarly, open-access search engines to begin your research:
(If you find a must-have non-full-text source, try finding the article in the library database or Interlibrary loan)


Library Discovery Search:
The library provides a single search engine which aggregates many subscription databases into an adaptable single search. This is a great tool to begin research on general topics and help you get started. For more specialized searching you should consider using specific databases.


Library Databases:
The library databases contain thousands of peer-reviewed articles, ebooks, videos, and more. These subscription-only sources are more likely to provide full-text, reliable, scholarly information with direct access that supports the university curriculum.

Pros and Cons Among Search Engines

A world-wide web search provides the greatest domain of content to be searched. However, sifting through the results requires a great deal of time browsing and filtering -- only to find that a small fraction of your results are peered-reviewed and that few scholarly articles are available as full-text. This is true even of Google Scholar.

A library discovery service provides a search across all library databases (often numbering in the hundreds) of scholarly materials consolidated under one search. One can be confident of retrieving content that is available as full-text.

A single database search usually offers very precise subject searching within a smaller pool of content – but increases the chances of returning better relevancy. In some instances, content of certain databases cannot be discovered through a library discovery service, and therefore searches must be conducted within a single library database. To view a list of  which databases are best searched apart from Summon click here.

The overlapping domains of content among search engines

Search Tips from the Summon Help Pages

Phrase Searching

Summon allows for phrase searching with the use of “ ”. The search “teacher education” will find results with that exact phrase.

Searching Specific Fields

The single search box in Summon (basic search box or keyword search box in advanced search) will search across many fields automatically. For example, entering an ISBN, ISSN, or call number will bring back records related to those fields.

You can explicitly search a field using the strategy: field:(search terms). For example, the search title:(Art of Creative Teaching) finds records that contain those words in the title. 

Use quotation marks with this strategy to find records with exact phrases.  The search title:("Art of Creative Teaching") finds records with that exact phrase in the title field.

Searchable fields:


Subject Terms



Publication Title





ISBN (books) or ISSN (Journals)



Boolean Operators

Summon offers the following Boolean operations: OR, NOT and AND. The operators must be written in ALL CAPS.

By default, all terms in a search are combined with the AND operator. To expand the results set, use the OR operator microcircuits OR nanocircuits will return items that contain either term.

This can be combined with quoted terms such as “teacher education” OR “educator training”.

To exclude items in Summon, use the NOT operator or the minus sign (-) before a term. The search animal NOT dog does not include results with the term dog.

Wildcard Use in Summon

Searches within Summon can be performed using the wildcards ? and *.

The question mark (?) will match any one character and can be used to find Olsen or Olson by searching for Ols?n.

The asterisk (*) will match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. A search for Ch*ter would match Charter, Character, and Chapter. When used at the end of a word, such as Temp*, it will match all suffixes, for example, Temptation, Temple and Temporary.

Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search.


Macdonald-Kelce Library - The University of Tampa - 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. - Tampa, FL 33606 - 813 257-3056 - - Accessibility