Writing research papers for college or university requires you to understand techniques to search a database for sources. One of the most common databases recommended by colleges is LexisNexis. This database allows access to global news sources, bibliographical references and legal documents. If you're accessing LexisNexis from outside a university network, you will have to buy a subscription.

Basic Search

Step 1

Type your search terms into the box.

Step 2

Check the boxes under "Search Within" to filter the results your search will retrieve. For example, checking the box "Major U.S and World Publications" alone will retrieve a list composed of major publications written in English.

Step 3

Choose a date range.

Step 4

Click "Search."

Step 5

To change the type of information in your search, click the tabs at the top of the menu: for example, the "Business" tab will allow you to look up information about a company. The "Legal" tab allows you to look up legal proceedings such as court cases or statutes.

Advanced Search Techniques

Step 1

Use search term connectors to narrow your LexisNexis search results further. For example, the W/n connector only retrieves search results with two terms located within a given value of one another, according to LexisNexis Research Help. For example, "writing W/4 business" will bring up search results in which the terms "writing" and "business" appear within four words of each another.

Step 2

Truncate a term in LexisNexis by adding an exclamation point after a partial word to get a result list that contains all possible words made by adding letters to the end of the term. This technique is useful for getting results of a root word and all its possible conjugations. The search term "develop!" would retrieve "develop," "development," "developer," and so on.

Step 3

For terms that contain more than one possible spelling or frequently misspelled words, use an asterisk in place of each letter.

Working with Sources

Step 1

Narrow down a large result list by checking the boxes in the left-hand side of the screen. You can display your results by subject, publication name and/or category.

Step 2

Use the dialog boxes in the right-hand frame of the LexisNexis search to sort the results by relevance or by publication date.

Step 3

Click on the navigation buttons at the bottom right-hand corner of the document to move between occurrences of your search terms and decrease the time you spend reading and determining the value of your source.

Step 4

Record your citation for use in your paper. Record the name of the author, the title of the article, publication, publication date and page numbers. The Yale University Writing Center directs you to also include the name of the database, the location of access and the date of access when using MLA citation. In APA citation, you should indicate "Retrieved from LexisNexis," followed by the document number.