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Penn State University Libraries

User Guide: Navigating ProQuest Databases with a Screen Reader


  • Adaptive Technology and Services
  • 113 Pattee Library, west
    University Park, PA 16802
  • Phone: 814-865-0284

Navigating the ProQuest Database with a JAWS Screen Reader

The links above will allow you to jump to different content areas on this page.


Opening a ProQuest Database

The Penn State Libraries subscribe to numerous ProQuest products.

To get to the list of databases, press INSERT + F7 on the libraries homepage and selected Databases by Title (A-Z). From this page, you can browse through the list of thousands of databases with their descriptions or you can enter a keyword and search for a specific database. 

Alternatively, if you search for ProQuest via the Search Databases search box, you will be taken to a page that lists multiple ProQuest products, several are specific to various fields of study, like psychology. The most comprehensive database is simply called ProQuest (Multiple Databases). It allows you to search all  ProQuest products at the same time.

Select the database that you believe to be the most fitting for your research needs. Upon selecting a database, a new window will open with a redirect page. After several seconds, you will be taken to the database homepage.


ProQuest Databases Compatible with this User Guide

This Guide will not assist you with navigating the following ProQuest databases, as they have very different search interfaces:

ProQuest Statistical Datasets
ProQuest Statistical Insights
ProQuest Congressional Publications


Access Keys - Browser Specific

The following access keys provide keyboard shortcuts to selected ProQuest pages and functionality without using a mouse.

Note: these key commands are different than the JAWS commands and are included in this guide to provide additional methods of navigating the database.

0 = Accessibility page
1 = Search page
2 = Skip navigation
3 = Sitemap
4 = Quick search box on the results page
6 = Help (opens in a new window)

Using access keys with specific browsers

Press the key combinations listed below to access the specific page or functionality listed above. The ‘Accesskey’ corresponds to the numeric values 1–6 listed above. For example, to display the ProQuest sitemap using Internet Explorer 7, hold down the ALT key, press 3, and then press ENTER.

Internet Explorer 7+

ALT + accesskey + ENTER

Firefox 3+

SHIFT + ALT + accesskey (PC)
CTRL + accesskey (Mac)


ALT + accesskey (PC)
CTRL + accesskey (Mac)


SHIFT + ESC to list the access keys available

Google Chrome

Alt + accesskey


Creating a Search Query

Basic Search

The Advanced Search page is the default homepage, but you can access the Basic Search page by selecting the ‘Basic Search’ link. To navigate to the Basic Search page, press the keys INSERT + F7 to get a list of links available on the page and use the ARROW keys until you hear Basic Search. The Basic Search page only has one edit box and a combo box with a menu of limiters you may select, such as full text, peer reviewed, and more. These limiters vary by database.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search page has 5 edit boxes to enter search criteria. The layout is as follows:

Row 1: Edit field, combo box with limiters (for example author, keyword, title, and more),

Row 2: Combo box with a boolean operators (for example or, not, and), edit field, combo box with limiters,

Row 3: Combo box with boolean operators, edit field, combo box.

You have the option of adding additional rows of edit fields after the five provided boxes have been used.

When you are done entering your search query, you can press ENTER to browse your results or you can further refine your search by using the TAB key to move down the page to other limiter options, narrowing your search. 

Search Limiters - The Search Options area

Both the Basic Search and Advanced Search pages provide an area below the edit fields and combo boxes allowing you various options to limit your results to include only results that are full text, peer reviewed, or the latest updates regarding your search topic. Most databases provide an option to narrow your search with a date range using a combo box. 

Other limiters available will vary by database, though the layout of the 'Search Options' area is practically identical in all the ProQuest products.

You may choose how you would like your search results to be organized – relevance or publication date (oldest to newest and vice versa), how many results you would like per page using a combo box (default is 20 per page), in addition to selecting to include duplicate documents (the database excludes duplicates by default).

For further information and tips for creating effective ProQuest searches, please click here.


Reviewing Search Results

Selecting the Search button will take you to your results page.

To skip directly to your search results, use access key 2 with the appropriate key combinations - using ALT or SHIFT or ENTER, for your browser. You will still have to TAB through all of the links at the top of the page and down the side menu.

Once at your results, you will hear the following:

  • Check box, not checked
  • The order number of the item retrieved
  • Type of information source
  • Title of the document (which is also a link to the full text, if available, otherwise you will be taken to the citation/abstract page)
  • Link to preview the item (though this link does not work with keyboard commands, you can access the same information by opening the citation/abstract link at the bottom of the record)
  • Author names
  • Publication name
  • Date of publication
  • Link to the citation/abstract 
  • Link to the full-text or PDF if available

If the document is not available via PDF or full-text from this databases, there is a 'Get it' button located right after the citation/abstract link that will allow you to request the item via ILLIAD, or interlibrary loan.  You can learn more about InterLibrary Loan by clicking here.


Selecting Documents

To easily save or print more than one document at a time, navigate to the check box next to the document title on the results page. Check the box(es) then press INSERT + F7 to get a list of links on the page. Use the ARROW keys to navigate to the following options:

  • Save to My Research: This option requires a RefWorks account.
  • Email: This option requires an email account to which the item will be sent. You can choose to send the full text of the document (if available), the citation information or just the results listing (minimal information). It can be emailed in either HTML or text only format.
  • Print: This option will open two new windows. The first window will display in a print preview format. The second smaller window will allow you to select a printer, pages to print, copies, et cetera.
  • Cite: This option will open a new window, which contains a drop down menu with over two dozen citation styles to choose from. In order to save the citation, it has to be copied and pasted into another document.
  • Export/Save: Before this option opens a new window, you will have to select how you would like to Export or Save the item from a drop down menu. Options include, saving the item as a PDF, RTF, HTML or text only file or exporting the item to RefWorks, ProCite, EndNote or Reference Manager or RIS.

If you have a record open, you can get to the same list of options by again, pressing INSERT + F7.

To get back to the list of records on the Results page, press the Backspace key or Alt + left arrow.

Please note: All options in a modal box - which is a window that lays over the webpage, maintaining the webpage on the screen, just in the background and greyed out. JAWS sometimes has a difficult time reading the modal boxes and will stay on the webpage. If you experience this issue, press CTRL + END to get to the bottom of the modal box and use the UP ARROW key to navigate to the top of the display.