Improving searches III: Database Search Techniques
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  • 1. A UST Libraries Information Literacy Tutorial
  • 2. Database Search TechniquesDissatisfied with your database search results? Don’tknow what all those checkboxes are for? ThinkBoolean is a form of lawn bowling?This tutorial shows you how to take advantage of ourdatabases’ special features and search functions to getthe best possible search results.
  • 3. Database Search TechniquesOutline:1. Limiters2. Narrow with AND3. Broaden with OR4. Use subject terms
  • 4. 1. LimitersLimiters exclude all search results that don’t fit yourchosen criteria. Limiters can take a lot of the work outof finding the exact resources you want.For example, if you select the limit, “peer-reviewedjournals,” then you will have only articles fromscholarly journals in your search results.
  • 5. 1. LimitersDifferent databases offer different limits. These mightinclude date, geography, subject area, or resource type.Read the whole Advanced Search page and the left sideof your search results page to see what limits areavailable to you.
  • 6. 2. Narrow with ANDYou can narrow your database search results by addingkey terms using AND.For example, a search for viruses AND computers will getfewer (and very different) results than a search for justviruses. All your results will contain both words, sothey are more likely to be about computer viruses.On the next slide, we’ll show a screenshot demonstratinga search with AND.
  • 7. Search: university AND Thomas AND Texas
  • 8. 3. Broaden with ORYou can increase your relevant search results by addingalternative keywords with OR.With OR, you can add synonyms or related terms to yoursearch. These will catch results that may be on yoursubject, but that use different wording.
  • 9. 3. Broaden with ORYou can combine AND searches with OR searches usingparentheses or the multiple boxes on database searchpages. For example:(fruits OR vegetables) AND (farms OR orchards)The next slide gives a database screenshot example.
  • 10. Search: (fruits OR vegetables) AND (orchards OR farms)
  • 11. 3. Broaden with ORA good, easy way to broaden your searches is to usetruncation.With truncation, you can search for different forms of aword. For example,Catholic*searches for:Catholic OR Catholics OR Catholicism
  • 12. 4. Use Subject TermsDatabases use subject terms to organize resources bytopic.Articles get assigned subject terms by professionalsubject indexers working for the database. The termsare listed and explained in the database Thesaurus.
  • 13. 4. Use Subject TermsA search for a subject term should get all the database’sarticles on that topic– even if the article uses differentwords for the same idea.For example, “cell phones” is a subject term in thedatabase, Academic Search Complete. For that reason,a search for “cell phones” gets thousands more resultsthan a search for “mobile phones.” And all articlesabout “mobile phones” will be included in the “cellphones” search.Always write down relevant subject terms and use themin your database searches.