Keys to conducting a good search include:
· Do some background research on your research topic to gather potential keywords and phrases. Encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri and other reference materials will be helpful in learning the terminology used by professionals writing in the field.
· Conduct multiple types of searches. A keyword search will generally provide the most results, but not all results will be necessarily on topic. Try using a subject search, or try limiting your search by date or format. Use the Library of Congress system to find the cataloged items on a particular subject.
· Try searching a broad topic and then narrow down the search field by using supplementary links, and subject suggestions within the catalog & and the search within feature of the databases.
· Search multiple locations and look for a variety of sources. The SC4 catalog houses many formats including e-books, e-journals, streaming videos, DVD & VHS, reference books & circulating books. The library also subscribes to many academic databases, both broad in scope and subject specific.
· Combine words and phrases using the search strategies in this guide. Keep track of which terms you have searched, and of which combinations draw better results.
· Copy or save citations as you search for easier resource retrieval later.
These tips apply to all types of searching, whether you are using the SC4 Library Catalog, one of the Databases, or an Internet Search Engine.
If you need assistance, or feel a little lost – be sure to ask a SC4 Librarian for help!
Research game plan
One of the easiest ways to refine your search is to use the 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. (The AND operator is not necessary in Google; Google automatically adds the AND between words unless a phrase is put in quotation marks.)
The chart below explains differences between the Boolean operators.
· Narrows search result
· Finds articles/websites with both terms in them. Terms may not necessarily be next to each other
"global warming" AND hurricane* (retrieves articles with both terms)
· Broadens search result
· Use to combine similar terms. One or the other search term must appear in the article/website
· Put parentheses around your ORs
"global warming" OR "greenhouse effect" (retrieves articles with either term)
· Use to eliminate terms from search
"global warming" NOT Antarctica (eliminates articles that have the word Antarctica in them)
Most of the databases and search engines will AND the words of a phrase together. If you wish to search the term as a phrase, put quotation marks around it to refine your search.
identity theft = identity AND theft
“identity theft” keeps the words of the phrase together
Most databases use the asterisk * to truncate words. For example, child* will search for the words child or child’s or children. Another example is listed below.
develop* = develop + develops + development + developmental
Google automatically looks for the singular and plural of a word.
Combining some of the skills together
(dog OR dogs OR canine*) AND (kennel* OR board*) AND “port huron”
(ipad OR tablet) AND (evaluat* OR review*)
Google can be helpful for your research. Here are some ways to make sure you're getting the best you can out of it:
Other helpful tricks to use include:
Image: "Google Search Strategies." Research Process, Georgia Tech Library, 26 Sept. 2016, libguides.gatech.edu/researchprocess/researchprocess_searchstrategies. Accessed 24 May 2017.
Databases are a
"usually large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer)".
Basically, a database is an electronically organized catalog, index, and container for published information such as journal, newspaper, and magazine articles, as well as ebooks, streaming video and audio files.
A database is either general or subject/discipline specific and is searchable by keyword, subject, author, or title.
A library database will provide scholarly and peer-reviewed sources that are appropriate to use for academic research and writing.
Most databases are searchable by keyword or subject.
You can also limit your results by publication date, by publication type, and by many other limiters in the drop-down box. Results can be refined by language, author, or other limiters. Some databases mix scholarly and non-scholarly sources, and will allow you to limit between the two.
Depending on the database you are using, articles may be displayed in different formats:
Our library guide "How to Use the Library Databases" covers this topic in more detail.
"Database." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 14 June 2017.