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CHS 151: Chicano Studies and Speech

Freshman Speech Communication

OneSearch Search Tips

Watch this video to learn how to navigate OneSearch to find materials available through the University Library.


What's in OneSearch? 

What is OneSearch? 

OneSearch is the University Library's searching tool to locate books, ebooks, articles, videos, and more provided by the Library. OneSearch has been adopted by all 23 CSU libraries giving the CSU system a shared platform to collaborate and share resources.

What's in OneSearch?

What’s in OneSearch? 

By default, with OneSearch you are searching the following CSUN Collections together:

  • Online Subscriptions  - An interdisciplinary collection of millions of articles, ebooks, journals, streaming media, electronic collections, and government documents from numerous databases and providers. This search includes content from multiple sources, including many of the databases which the University Library subscribes to. (For a complete list of our databases, see our A-Z Database List.)
  • Physical Materials - Books, DVDs, music, maps, government documents, and materials located in the Main Stacks (3rd and 4th floor), Course Reserves, Teacher Curriculum Center, Music & Media, Map Library, and Special Collections & Archives. Don't forget, this is the only place you can search for print books. 

Additionally, the following collections are not included in the default search, but can be selected in the drop down menu (to the right of the search box):

  • Course Reserves - Course materials placed in the library by professors and available for short term checkout.
  • All CSU Libraries – If we do not have what you’re looking for, expand your search results beyond our library. Make sure to sign-in to OneSearch to request electronic or physical items through another library.  

OneSearch vs Google 

OneSearch is NOT Google. Google searches the open web using a proprietary algorithm and provides results with information publicly available online. OneSearch is considered a “discovery tool” which means it searches resources that the library has specifically subscribed to (databases, journals, etc.) and pulls results of specific books, ebooks, articles, videos, etc.

If you are asked to find scholarly/peer-reviewed articles, a good place to start is OneSearch (NOT Google).

Don’t use OneSearch the same way you use Google. OneSearch is not as "smart" as Google, so you will likely need to refine your search using the options under ‘Refine My Results’ to help you narrow down your results list to get the most relevant information. For more information on how to tell OneSearch what you're specifically looking for, view the Search Tips section.

Pros and Cons of using OneSearch


  • Great place to start your research.
  • Searches a variety of library resources all at once.
  • Easy to navigate and use.
  • Also finds resources that the library does not own. (You can request these resources the library does not have access to when you are signed into OneSearch.)
  • Mimics the design of most library databases. If you get good at searching OneSearch, you’ll have a strong understanding of using most databases!


  • Can return very large number of results, which can be overwhelming.
  • Despite being named "OneSearch," it does not search everything the library owns!
    • Several databases are not searched by OneSearch at all and some databases are only partially searched.
    • For example, newspaper articles are almost completely excluded from OneSearch. For more information, view the Finding and Accessing News Articles guide. 
  • OneSearch is a general tool – meaning that it covers all subjects and isn’t very strong in any particular one.
    • The more specific or obscure your research needs, the less helpful OneSearch will be.
    • If you need to focus your search on a particular topic or subject, you may want to move to a subject specific database.

General Search Tips

It can be frustrating to not find what you’re looking for, but sometimes all it takes to improve your results is small tweaks to your search:

  • Don’t search using complete sentences. Instead break your topic down into keywords:
    • Instead of searching: What barriers impact voter turnout in the United States? try this:
    • Voter ID laws AND “United States” AND turnout
      • Note that the words barriers and impact may not make good keywords. Think of the potential barrier or impact on voting and use that as a keyword instead.
  • Use "quotation marks" around words you want to search together, such as phrases, names, or book and article titles. Example: “United States”
  • Use the asterisk * for wildcard searching where you can search a root word and get variable endings to broaden your results (latin* retrieves latins, latino, latina, etc.) or replace a single character within a word (wom*n will retrieve woman or women)

Looking for a specific book or article? 

The easiest way to search if the library has access to an item is to type the title and/or author into the OneSearch search box.  If we have the item, it should be pretty high in the results list. If you don’t see it, try expanding your search with the drop down menu All CSU Collections and potentially request through Interlibrary Loan.

Viewing search results 

To view more details about any search result, including how to access an item, click the title to get the full view. In the full view, you can see:

Tools: Send the item information via email, print it out, generate a citation for the item, or add the item to a citation management program such as RefWorks or EndNote. 

OneSearch Tools

Online Access: When this box appears, you should have access to the full text of the item. You will need to sign in with your CSUN user ID and password and duo authenticate to view the full text.

Online Access

In the Library: If the library owns a physical copy of the item, it will appear here. Under Item Locations will be the area/floor, call number, and if the item is available or checked out. Select Map It! to view which stack or bookshelf it’s on. If you sign in to OneSearch you can request the item and pick it up at either Guest Services or the library lockers.

In the library

Details: Find more information about the item, including a summary or abstract.

Too many results 

Start by adding more search terms: Begin with just one or a few search terms, then add additional words that describe your research topic. Make sure to try different combinations of search terms.

Use good search terms - Try using terms that are more specific than those you originally entered. Think of related words or synonyms that could better describe your research topic. 

Use filters - Filters (such as Resource Type, Topic, and Date) give you a more targeted results list.

Topic is too broad - Narrow the scope of your search. Think about the various aspects of your topic that you plan to cover in your paper and search for them separately, then synthesize the information you find. Or you may need to narrow your topic because it is too large a topic to cover in a short paper.

Consider a Subject Specific Database – If there are still too many search results try searching in a specific subject specific database or using a multidisciplinary database such as Academic Search Premier or JSTOR. Be prepared to try several databases for your research.

Too few results 

Check your search terms -  Are there any spelling errors? Brainstorm synonyms or related terms of your concepts and try different variations of the words used.

Too many search terms - Each additional term in your search will get you fewer results. If you have three or more search terms, try removing one to see if your results improve.

Too many filters - Filters (such as Resource Type, Topic and Date) give you a more targeted results list, but get you fewer results. Use only those that are absolutely necessary.

Your topic is too narrow - What is the broader theme of your topic? Break your topic down and search for different parts separately, then synthesize the information you find.

Consider a Subject Specific Database – If there are not enough search results try searching in a specific subject specific database or using Google Scholar. Be prepared to try several databases for your research.

Filtering search results 

Once you have a list of results, you can refine them further by using the limiters under Refine My Results. Select the box on the left side to refine your search using that filter.  OneSearch won't automatically keep the filters if you change your search. To keep filters locked, select 'Remember All Filters'. 

Refine my results options


Show Only:

Peer reviewed Journals: Looking for scholarly or academic articles? Use this limiter so your results only list peer reviewed journal articles.

Available Online at CSUN: Use this filter if you want all your results to only include material you can access online.

Available at CSUN: Use this filter if you want all your results to only include physical material available inside the library.

Resource Type:

Include only certain types of information, such as articles or books. Hover over any type and click the red icon to exclude any resource types from your search.

Date: Find only items published within a certain date range. Enter the years and click “Refine” to apply.


Advanced Search 

Use the Advanced Search feature to help you find specific items by title or author name, material type or publication date range.



OneSearch Advanced Search

To access the advanced search feature, click the OneSearch image on the Library's  homepage and then the "Advanced" search link next to the Basic Search bar.  A set of radio buttons gives you the option to search just the CSUN Collections, Course Reserves, or All CSU Libraries, which includes items you can order through CSU+ or InterLibrary Loan.  You can search by Title, Author/contributor, Subject or ISBN, or all fields, and can combine multiple search statements.  You can limit your search by Material Type (Books, Articles, Journals, Images, or Audio-visual), but language, and by date or date range.

My Library Account 

onesearch sign in     

sign in alternative

Access your library account by clicking “Sign in" at the top right corner of the screen or by clicking the Sign in inside the yellow banner below the search box. Then, select the drop down menu next to your name and click “My Library Account.” You can view checked out items, due dates, pending requests, and you can renew items here. You can also view your saved items, and search history.

You must be signed in to OneSearch to pin items to save or to view your search history. Click the pushpin in the upper right of any item in the list of results to save.

Why should I log in?

The OneSearch experience is greatly enhanced by logging in using your CSUN ID and password. In addition to accessing your library account and your My Favorites, logging in allows you to request items CSUN doesn't own or to pick-up physical materials at Guest Services or the Library Lockers. You can also report issues with an item by selecting and completing the RepoReport your problem rt a Problem form. 

Login problems 

If you cannot log into OneSearch or other library databases, you can fill out this form: or contact our Guest Services Department at or 818-677-2274.

Report ADA Problems with Library Services and Resources