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About Summon  

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2014 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts
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Searching Summon

What is Summon?
Summon is a discovery search tool that will search most of the APUS Library's full text resources from a single search box.  Find Summon on the library's homepage, or visit!/.

What is in Summon?
Summon searches over 40 individual academic research databases - including hundreds of thousands of ebooks, tens of thousands of journals, magazines and newspapers, thousands of videos, hundreds of customized course guides and countless open access resources from around the world.   A large variety of subjects are included, making Summon a perfect place to launch any research project.  

Most of the content that Summon searches is subscription-only -- that is, you would not be able to access it via a "regular" search engine like Google.    These databases have always been available at the APUS Library (and can still be searched one by one) -- Summon just lets you search them all from one place!

What is not in Summon?
There are a few databases that are not yet searched by Summon:  click here to see the list.   These databases may still be searched individually (as can those that are searched by Summon).  In fact, librarians recommend that very advanced research be performed in individual subject-specific databases, as their various platforms offer powerful search functions not available in Summon. To learn which databases are best for your research topic or program of study, consult a Program Guide, or ask a librarian.

Why use Summon?
With one easy, Google-like search box, you can find a wide variety of subscription research materials. Filters let you easily narrow your search by resource type (do you need articles or ebooks?), date ranges, discipline, and more.  Best of all, everything that Summon retrieves will be full text! 

Take a look:


Basic Summon Search

A basic search in Summon is simple - a single search box grants you access to most of our library's subscription ebooks and journals.  And, all your search results will be full text

Sound like a lot?  It is, but don't worry!  You can refine your results to weed out the resources you don't need.

See a quick video demo of an article search below.  Note:  video has no audio. 


Advanced Summon Search

Advanced search is particularly useful for pinpointing specific titles, or for setting limits on your search.   When you have a good idea of what you're looking for, advanced search can help you find it quickly (though you can also refine your results after you launch a basic search).  Use the search tips to help you get the most out of every search!

Find the Advanced Search Options in Summon

Advanced Search in Summon


Summon Search Results

Searching Summon is as simple as search, refine, get!

Search: enter your search terms.  The basic search is a keyword search against almost all the materials to which the library subscribes: ebooks, journal articles and  videos, and also open access journals and government websites. 

A simple search can return a million or more results!  Your initial results will be ranked by relevance.  

Refine:  use the filters  on the left side of your search results to narrow your search by source type, discipline, date and more.   Or, use the search tips to pinpoint what you're looking for.

Get: click on an item to access it!  If you are prompted to log in, use your APUS id and password.

Mouse over the red circles on the image below to read more about Summon's features:


Summon Search Tips

Phrase Searching: Use quotation marks ("") to find an exact phrase. Click here for examples.

Searching Specific Fields:  Click here to read about field searching.

  • The single search box in Summon (basic search box or keyword search box in advanced search) will search all fields at once.  To limit your search to just one field, use the field name followed by a colon and your keywords.  A few examples:

Fields that can be searched directly include:

Title PublicationTitle
SubjectTerms ISBN
Author ISSN
Publisher DOI

Boolean Operators: Using Boolean search syntax (AND, OR, NOT) will bypass features of the Summon relevancy system (for example, stemming, proper name matching, and so on). Boolean searches, depending on how they are written, can either limit or expand your search.  Click here for examples!

  • In a query containing both AND and OR operators, AND is processed first, followed by OR. If a query contains parentheses, operators within parentheses are processed first, and then precedence rules are processed from left to right.
  • Ampersand (&): Is equated with the appropriate word for "and" in all supported languages except Korean, Japanese, and Chinese where it is not necessary. In German "&" is treated as "UND".

Wildcards:  Wildcard searches expand a search and will increase the number of results returned. Summon supports two wildcards: the question mark (?)  and the asterisk (*). Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search.

  • The question mark (?) will match a single character. For instance, the search wom?n will find both "woman" and "women."
  • The asterisk (*) will match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. A search for sustainab* will match "sustainable" and "sustainability."

Proximity:  Proximity searches limit result to terms within a specified number of words from each other. To perform a proximity search, enclose your search terms in quotes and use the tilde (~) followed by a number indicating the distance you want to allow between the search terms.

For example: "yeast bread"~10 finds material where "yeast" and "bread" appear within 10 words of each other.

NOTE: proximity searching does not take the order of search terms into account. In this example, the search "boron nanotubes potassium"~6 yields results in which the three search terms appear within six words of each other in any order.


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Linda Cranston

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Summon Playlist

A few short silent movies demonstrating Summon search features:

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