PowerSearch Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is PowerSearch?
A. PowerSearch is perhaps best described as the "Googlization” of practically everything that is owned by the Western Michigan University Libraries.

Q. What does PowerSearch include?
A. It contains most of the collections of the WMU Libraries -- books, journal articles, newspapers, dissertations, book reviews, government documents, and instructional videos.

Q. When should I use PowerSearch?

  • If you need to quickly retrieve items on a topic. (Example:  I need three good sources on the First Crusade.)
  • If you are interested in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research. (Example: I'm looking for information about how climate change is affecting the agriculture in Africa.)
  • If you know the citation or have an incomplete citation for an item and just want to get the article. (Example: My professor asked me to get all the articles that are listed in this bibliography.)

Q. When should I not use PowerSearch?
A.  If you need to perform in-depth searching, requiring extensive use of a database's controlled vocabulary or specialized search features. Instead, use a subject specific database such as Historical Abstracts or ScienceDirect, to complete sophisticated search strategies.

Q. How can I narrow my search?
A. Search options appear under the search box for PowerSearch to limit your search to just books or just articles. More options appear on the left side of the search results page. These include:

  • Limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review: This option narrows the results from PowerSearch to only articles that have been marked as originating in scholarly journals (including peer-reviewed journals).
  • Exclude newspaper articles: PowerSearch contains a vast quantity of newspaper material. While this is very useful, some searchers may want to use this option to quickly eliminate these newspaper article results from their search in favor of other material, such as scholarly journal or magazine articles.
  • Items with full text online: Most of the articles listed in PowerSearch are available electronically, but not every article has been purchased by WMU Libraries - some articles only have descriptive information and an abstract available. This option narrows search results to only those items for which online full-text is available.

Q. How can I export results from PowerSearch?
A. PowerSearch can export search results to citation management programs such as RefWorks and EndNote. PowerSearch also often includes stable URLs for articles, which can be bookmarked or pasted into email messages.

Q. How can I get assistance?
A. For assistance with PowerSearch, please use our Ask a Librarian service.