When searching for information, there are a number of techniques to use that will help refine your search results. You can use these strategies when looking for information from the library databases or from a search engine such as Google.
Put quotation marks " " around phrases to search the term as a phrase. Otherwise the database or Google may separate the words.
"social media" "minimum wage" "Port Huron"
Refine your search results using Boolean operators. The three most common Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT, but there are others available. The operators AND and NOT will narrow your search and OR will usually increase your search results.
AND - Use AND to find resources with all of your search terms.
“climate change” AND "national security"
“business plans” AND restaurants
"college students" AND "study habits"
OR - Use OR to find articles with either search term in them.
"Blue Water Area" OR "Thumb Coast"
colleges OR universities
restaurants OR “food industry”
ecommerce OR "online shopping"
NOT - Use NOT to eliminate terms you do not want in your search results. (Use - in Google)
graffiti NOT "American Graffiti"
Combining Terms - Put parentheses () around the ORs if other Boolean operators are used.
“college students” AND sleep AND ("cell phone" OR texting)
marketing AND (restaurants OR "food industry")
Finding Research Articles
Look for the following:
An Abstract is at the beginning of the article. This is a summary of the researchers/authors' study methods, arguments, conclusions, and more.
Author(s) - Scholarly articles often have two or more authors. The authors' credentials, affiliations, and other information is usually listed on first page of the article, under the title or sometimes on the last page of article.
Headings/Sections in the article include:
Introduction -- Usually one paragraph, sometimes more, describing the subject of the article
Methodology -- Provides information about how data was collected, what data was gathered, and who participated in the study
Discussion/Results -- Offers information about the results of the study and what was learned
Conclusion -- Summarizes the findings of the research/study and any recommendations or limitations of the study
References/Bibliography -- Detailed list of references used in the research is generally found at the end of the article
Technical/Specialized Language - Scholarly articles are generally written in formal, technical language.
Charts, Graphs, Diagrams, etc. - Scholarly articles are often communicating results of studies and research and so will include charts, graphs, diagrams, and other visual aids.
Length - Scholarly articles are usually relatively long; often they are four pages or more.