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Search Primo Central

Primo Central

This diagram illustrates what's in Primo Central. A large circle represents all of Primo Central's content. Inside is a smaller circle representing all Primo/TRELLIS content and a larger circle which represents all of the articles available in research databases. This larger circle overlaps and extends outside of the Primo Central circle, illustrating that not all articles will be available through Primo Central.


What is Primo Central?

Primo Central is a search engine that provides credible, relevance ranked results from the Library’s online and print collections in a single search.

It includes everything found in the Library’s catalogue, plus a lot of the content available through the Library's databases.

Try searching in Primo Central when you might otherwise search Google Scholar, Primo, ScholarsPortal, or a research database like JSTOR. Primo Central is not intended to entirely replace these other search tools, but we hope that it will be a much-valued addition to your research toolkit.

What’s in Primo Central? What’s not in Primo Central?

Primo Central includes hundreds of millions of records for books, journal articles, e-books and e-journals, news articles, and much more. It includes everything found in Primo / TRELLIS, plus information usually found in research databases.

Primo Central may include some or all of the databases and journals that you already use. Some databases and journals allow full-text searching, others include only citation information (e.g., title, author, abstract, etc.), but may be accessible from Primo Central via SFX links.

What sources are included in Primo Central?

Coming soon.

How does Primo Central compare to Primo/TRELLIS?

Primo Central includes everything that is in Primo/TRELLIS, plus hundreds of millions of scholarly articles and online records.

What happened to the Journal Articles Quick Search?

The search engine that supported the Journal Articles Quick Search is being phased out. We hope Primo Central will provide a faster and more comprehensive search alternative to the Journal Articles quick search.

How long is this trial running for?

Our Primo Central trial will start in the summer and run through the fall term.

Why is the Library participating in this Primo Central trial?

Our users have told us that they want a way to search all of our resources simultaneously. Right now, web-scale indexes like Primo Central are the closest thing to making this possible. Our participation in this trial will give us an indication of how well this type of web-scale index meets your search needs.

What subjects does Primo Central search?

Most subjects are covered, but the Library’s Subject Guides also offer recommendations for the best resources for each uWaterloo academic department.

When should I use the "Search" tab?

"Search" is the default tab. Use it to search for books, journal articles, conference proceedings, newspaper articles, etc.

When should I use the "Books and more" tab?

Use the "Books and more" tab when you want to find books, journal titles, or other resources in Primo.

When should I use the "Articles and more" tab?

Use the "Articles and more" tab when you want to find journal articles, conference proceedings, newspaper articles etc.

I can't access the [article, e-book, etc.] in Primo Central

If you're searching Primo Central from off-campus, you will need to authenticate as a Waterloo user to access online resources. In case you're not prompted automatically, go to our "Connect from Home" page to log in.

I can't find [an article, book, resource] in Primo Central. Where can I find it?

Can’t find a book in Primo Central? Try:

Limiting your search results to “Resource Type: Book” using the facets on the left-hand side of the search results page
Doing an advanced search in Primo Central (include link)
Doing a “Title” search in the Primo / TRELLIS catalogue

Can’t find an article in Primo Central? Try:

Using an “exact” search under the articles tab to narrow your results. Some articles are not findable in Primo Central (it does not provide 100% coverage of our journal collection). To do a thorough article search, look up the journal title and determine if the Library subscribes to the journal. Then browse by year/issue to find the right article.

Can't find a journal in Primo Central? Try:

Searching for the journal title in one of the first two tabbed searches.

Doesn't look like the Library owns the item?

Make an interlibrary loan request

When I do a search in Primo Central , I get many results. How can I refine my search to find exactly what I'm looking for?

Searches in Primo Central often yield an overwhelmingly large number of results. To help find what you’re looking for faster, try these search tips.

Use the precise search options in Primo Central:

Try Phrase Searching

Primo Central allows for phrase searching with the use of “ ”. The query “teacher education” will find results with that phrase.

Try the Advanced Search

Use the advanced search to search within the title, author, ISSN, ISBSN, publisher, subject, and tags fields. You can also limit your search by publication date, resource type, and language

Refine Your Search Results

Use the "Refine My Results" options on the left-hand side to limit by Resource Type, Subject, Publication Date, Author, Language, and more.

Does Primo Central include everything in a specific research databases?

Primo Central's vendor, ExLibris, works directly with publishers to obtain permissions to index specific journals, newspapers and other serials. Publication data can come from any number of places: direct from the publisher, or from an intermediate database.

For this reason, we don’t know exactly what the overlap is between Primo Central’s content and the content found in specialized research databases. In some cases it might be close to 100%, in others, 50-75%.

How does Primo Central compare to Google Scholar?

Primo Central and Google Scholar are both search engines that let you quickly search across a massive index of scholarly information.

Primo Central and Google Scholar search different bodies of scholarly content. There is overlap, but there is content findable in Primo Central but not Google Scholar, and vice-versa. The two search engines perform relevance ranking in very different ways.

Some features unique to Primo Central:

Some features unique to Google Scholar:

How does Primo Central's relevance ranking work?

Primo Central's sophisticated relevance ranking algorithm is a 'trade secret' of the software developers at ExLibris, so we are unable to explain exactly how it works. However, it usually gives priority to "exact title" matches on your search keywords.

For instance: a search for "practical grammar" will return items with the exact title "practical grammar" at the top. A search for "the practical grammar" will return almost identical results, but with priority given to titles with "the" in them.

How do the facets in the search results work?

Facets appear on the left-hand side of the search results screen and can help you to refine your search results.

By clicking on any of the facet values you can limit your search results to only results with these values.

Facets are dynamically generated from the top 200 relevant results. The number for each value is taken from the full set of results.

This is an example of facets:

Screenshot of the facets column on a search results screen

It's not clear why an item was returned in my search results?

Primo Central includes article citation information as well as full-text information. It may be that the search term is matching somewhere in the full-text.

Can I switch between tabs and keep my search queries?

When switching between tabs only the search terms stay. The drop down selections available in the "Books and more" and "Articles and more" tabs don’t carry over.

How is peer-reviewed determined in Primo Central?

Primo Central uses a list of peer-reviewed journals supplied by SFX (GetIt@Waterloo) to determine what is peer-reviewed.

Will Primo Central change over time?

The Primo Central software is relatively new and is expected to change and improve as new features are implemented and new content is added.

Primo Central is an example of “software as a service.” The Library has a license with the vendor ExLibris to provide Primo Central for the Library’s collection. In this sense, it is more similar to the Library’s various article databases (e.g. Web of Science) than it is to the Library’s Catalogue system (a locally-hosted software system that experiences major but infrequent upgrades).

Do I need to "Connect from Home" to search Primo Central?

To search Primo Central's complete holdings, you will need to "Connect from Home" in two instances:

If you're using a wired computer on campus, you will not need to "Connect from Home." 

How can I give feedback?

Provide feedback using the "feedback" link at the bottom of the Primo Central search page.

Chair, Discovery and Access Committee
Ext. 37469
June 25, 2013