Exploring Prospector

How and When To Use The

New Search System at the CSUS Library


Prospector is the new tool at the library at California State University, Sacramento that expands your searching options and allows you to do a Cross Search to find results across a wide variety of electronic resources.  If you have ever used a metasearch engine such as Dogpile.com or Vivisimo.com which combine and display highest ranking hits from other web search engines, then you have an idea what Prospector can do for you.  With it you can type in a single search and get combined results from selected databases, library catalogs and other resources.


While the appearance of Prospector is very different from what you may have used before to access articles in databases, the functionality is similar.  Prospector still allows you to link to the librarian’s Research Guides and to search the same databases that were previously available on the Database and Periodical Indexes(DPI) page.  You can go directly to those same resources by using the links to Article Databases and Research Guides shown at the bottom of the Welcome to PROPECTOR screen shown below.


Prospector has additional functionality.  You can now perform simultaneous searches across multiple resources in a single search. This is called federated searching or metasearching.  Prospector also gives you a personal search space where you can customize a list of your favorite resources to save them in sets you use frequently.


For first time users, we recommend Quick Search.  It provides a simple search window that doesn’t require you to be an expert.  It is not intended for in-depth research.  For faculty and graduate students that have very specific research needs, we recommend investing the time needed to create your own lists of favorite journals, databases or other resources using the My Research module of Prospector


If you are using Prospector on campus the Guest mode allows you full access.  You can also login to see your personal space.  Those using Guest mode off campus are restricted to EUREKA and other free resources, so you should always login using your SacLink account if you are off campus.


You should use Prospector if


  • You are just getting started and want an idea of what is available on your topic
  • You want to expand your searching beyond familiar databases
  • Your search can be done by keyword or a simple phrase


The primary drawback in using Prospector is that it does a “lowest common denominator” search, often using keywords rather than specialized controlled vocabulary.  That is because there is no standardized subject headings used by all the resources searchable within it.   If you want to focus and narrow your search, you should exit Prospector and search in an individual resource.


Quick Search


You can use Quick Search to get a quick idea of how many resources are available on your topic.  The major benefit is that the resources Quick Search retrieves are from scholarly or subscription-based resources.


We’ve created 6 sets to get you started.  Later you can login and create sets of your own to find articles or other information on topics you regularly search using the My Search feature.  This allows you to create lists of resources and journals and save citations to your own space within Prospector.


If you’re not sure which Quick Set to use, you can click the name of the set to see a list of the resources contained.


Click the radio button next to one of the 6 Quick Search sets.  Then, enter one or more search terms and click.


Prospector will simultaneously search for your terms in each resource.  Be patient while it is taking a moment to “fetch” your results.  You will soon see a display of the combined search results.  You can sort this list by year, title, author, database or rank.


A Quick Search in the Getting Started set which contains EUREKA, Academic Search Elite (EBSCOhost) and Expanded Academic (ASAP) for the phrase “California history” and “Sacramento” had the following results:



From this results screen you can then click any of the titles to see the Full View of the citation in Prospector. 


To get to the full text is the next step.  Some results may show the full text in the Full View screen, others may provide an External link to the article in a database or other you may have to click the  button.  Find It will take you to an intermediary page showing a list of resources that contain the full text of the item you have selected.  Not all the citations are to articles available online in full text, so you may be directed to a holdings statement in EUREKA that says we own the periodical or book and you can find it in the Library.


At any time in your search you can decide to exit Prospector and go directly into any resource and use the search commands within that resource for more precise results.  From the Table View above, just click the name of the resource in the Database column.


If your search result shows a large number from one particular database, you will find that the search features unique to each database usually allow you to do more precise and advanced searches than are possible in Prospector.

NOTE: Quick Search sets include only a few of many resources in each discipline. To find a more complete list of resources, search by subject or resource type in Find Resource. You can also create your own quicksets in the My Research module.



Find Resource


Using Find Resource, you can locate and access article databases and indexes, e-book/e-journal collections, and more by Subject or Title, or you can do a keyword search in Locate.


For subject access, click the Subject tab, choose a broad subject, then select a specific subject and click .



For title access, click the Titles tab and type in the name of the resources you want.  You can use an Exact title, the beginning of the title (Starts with) or word(s) that you think might be in the title (Contains).




For the broadest search, click the Locate tab and search by Any word. Use the radio buttons to show either all resources or only those to which you have access.   Once you have located the resources that interest you, used the  to mark any item you want to include in your personal space in Prospector, called My Resources.   Notice that you can specify the type of resource you want and restrict your search to just article databases or other formats.



NOTE: To search for individual journal titles (i.e. Science) go to Find Journal.


Find Journal


Using Find Journal, you can locate individual journals (electronic and print) by title, subject or International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).


If you don't know the exact title of a journal, enter words you do know, select the "contains" radio button and click .  A search for Contains:California history”  finds one result:



To determine if the Library owns this journal or whether it is available in full text, click  or the title of the journal.  If it is available you will see the screen below. 



Remember, clicking on EUREKA will take you out of Prospector into EUREKA  and show you the volumes of the periodical owned by the Library.  It may also show you a link to the journal if it is available online as part of our paper subscription.  If you click any of the other links that say “Get Sac State Licensed Full text from…” you will leave Prospector and enter another database.  It will usually display the journal by date, so you can browse the issues.


This same type of feature is available in other searches from the article level and the  screen will then automatically fill in the year volume issue and page number from the individual article you want.  Not all databases have compatible searching features, so this may vary depending on the database.

NOTE: To search for journal articles, go to Find Resource.

Cross Search


Using Cross Search, you can select up to 10 resources and search them simultaneously using a common search interface.


Choose resources to cross search by clicking on the drop down menu in the left panel. Then make selections in the sub-menu(s) that appear below.


Resources that can be cross-searched are preceded by a checkbox. To include a resource in a cross search, the box must be checked. To deselect a resource, uncheck the box.  If a resource has no checkbox, link to it directly by clicking on the title.


In the example below, the category History is selected and the sub-category California History chosen from a list.  The 5 resources selected are indicated with a check mark.  The Actions column indicates those items that you have selected for your personal space with a  gray button instead of the standard  blue button. 

Icon Key


More information about the resource.

Add to my Research

Add to My Research --> My Resources --> Clipboard

Added to My Research

Added to My Research --> My Resources --> Clipboard

Resource Selected

Resource has been included to be Cross Searched.

Resource Unselected

Resource has NOT been included to be Cross Searched.

Login required to search database(s).


Each search screen will contain an Icon Key to explain the features available.  If you want to build your own sets you can add resources to your own space within Prospector using My Research.

If the items you have selected with a check mark and searched in this Cross Search mode will be useful to you again, you should select the same items using the plus mark .  This plus mark will change to grey   to indicate you have added it to your Clipboard of resources.  To look at the list of items on your clipboard you must be logged in and use the My Research module.


Cross Search is the most powerful search within Prospector.  In Cross Search you can Refine your search.  Refine allows you to narrow your search by adding additional terms with the operator “AND” or to broaden your search by using additional terms with the operator “OR”.  Below “railroad” was added with “AND” to limit the results.  The Previous Search screen below shows both search results.  By adding the new search term the results are narrowed from 1974 to 36 matching records.






My Research


To use the My Research module you must first login to Prospector with your SacLink account. Logging in allows you to save and manage citations in personal folders, create and save multiple sets of your favorite resources and journals, save searches to rerun, and create alerts that will run searches automatically and alert you by email when new results match your search query.


You can login before selecting a search module from the original Welcome screen or at anytime while searching. Click the word Login directly under the Prospector icon.  Use your SacLink account and password and click login.  Your name will appear at the top right of the screen after “You are logged in as:…”


Then click My Research.  The screen will default to My Citations but there will be nothing there until you actual do a search and save some of them into your personal space within Prospector so don’t be surprised at the “folder empty” message.



The My Research module contains:

  • My Resources which lets you create your own Quick Search sets

  • My Journals which lets you create a set of specific journals to search

  • My Citations, which contains the items you have marked to save

  • Saved Searches which allows you to save a search and come back to it later

  • Preferences which allows you to choose table or brief view as a default



Before you can use My Resources you must first use Find Resources and mark some items for your personal use.  If there are already items in your Clipboard that you have marked with the  they will appear in a column on the right of your screen:



To create your own searchable Quick Search folder and move resources into it you must click the folder icon  above the word Actions in the column on the left, and name the new set.  Here you see the new set Calif. Hist.


To populate the empty set with resources, just click the left arrow under the word Actions in the column on the right and the resource will be copied into the new folder you have just created. 




When you go to Quick Search, any folder you create within My Resources will show up as a Quick Search set, in the space above the standard Quick Sets, as long as you have first logged into Prospector.  Just type your search and Click  to execute a search within your own search set.



There will be an intermediate search screen asking you to wait while the result are being searched and “fetched” you see the QuickSearch Results shown below.  Note that this search can pull result from some resources into Prospector, but other resources may require you to link to the original database



This search resulted in 1830 records being found, but note Prospector retrieves only the first 100 and displays the first 10.  You can Sort by Year, Title, Author, Database or use Rank as shown below.  You can also jump to a higher number on the list.  




You can also click “Get more with MetaSearch” (this link may change names) to see a breakdown of the items found


As you go through the QuickSearch Results page you can click the folder in the Action column to mark the items you want to keep.  To see the items you have marked, click My Research and My Citations will display automatically.


NOTE: Table View is the default setting for search result pages, but you can easily change the display to Brief View or Full View if you prefer.  You can set your display preferences in My Research by clicking on Preferences and choose to see 20 or 30 records instead of 10 per page.