Search strategies


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Some common tips and tricks to make the most of database searching.

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Search strategies

  1. 1. Search Strategies
  2. 2. Search Strategies <ul><li>No matter where you search: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library Databases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Library Catalog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many of these “tricks” will apply. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Keywords <ul><li>What words will you use to search with? </li></ul><ul><li>Be flexible! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ pit bulls” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ pit bull terriers” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>dogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>canine … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(any of these might work for a paper about dogs, particularly pit bull terriers) </li></ul>“ Spot the pit bull” by audreyjm529, . Creative commons license.
  4. 4. Multiple Keywords: Using And/Or/Not (“Boolean Searching”) <ul><li>Linking your words with these three words can gives you control over your search. </li></ul><ul><li>AND – When using this – you’re being very specific. </li></ul><ul><li>Or – If any of the words are available, then you’re interested! It doesn’t need all of them. </li></ul><ul><li>Not – leave things with ___ word out. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Boolean Searching Slide show creator: Abigail Colucci, University of Calgary Library, via SlideShare ( ) Use For And Narrowing your search & retrieving records containing all words Or Broaden your search to retrieve any of the words. Not Narrow search to retrieve records not containing term following it
  6. 6. Boolean Searching Original Slide: Abigail Colucci, University of Calgary Library, via SlideShare ( ) AND = All results with Dogs AND Cats OR = Results on Dogs OR Cats Not = Results on Dogs, but NOT Cats. DOGS CATS DOGS CATS DOGS CATS
  7. 7. AND <ul><li>I want a car that is red . </li></ul><ul><li>And has air conditioning . </li></ul><ul><li>And is a convertible </li></ul><ul><li>And has room for my great dane </li></ul>“ Comb-over Doggie” by ArtBrom at (creative commons)license)
  8. 8. OR <ul><li>I’d like a car that is red </li></ul><ul><li>Or blue.. </li></ul><ul><li>Or a bike.. </li></ul><ul><li>Or a mule </li></ul>
  9. 9. Not <ul><li>I’d like information about the Australian outback </li></ul><ul><li>But… </li></ul><ul><li>Not the Subaru Outback </li></ul>2001 Subaru Outback by Edwizzle at (Creative Commons Permission)
  10. 10. A sample search screen: This is a search screen from and EBSCOHost database. The articles must have all three of the words above in them, because we’re using AND to link them. This might find fewer articles, because we’re being very specific.
  11. 11. A sample search screen: This search will find any article as long as they have at least one of the words listed. It doesn’t have to have all of them. This will find many articles.
  12. 12. A sample search screen: In this search – the article must contain the first 2 words, but it must NOT include the last one. (It must talk about both apples and oranges. But if it mentions grapes, then it won’t be included!)
  13. 13. More Search Tips
  14. 14. Phrases <ul><li>Are you looking for words appearing together? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Put the words “in quotes” to find that exact phrase! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For example: </li></ul>“ Indiana Jones” “ LEGO Indiana Jones in Grass” by Rob Young, , Creative Commons License. Tom Jones at the House Of Blues, Anaheim, California. 10 March 2009, by Mykal Burns!,, Creative Commons license. Indiana Jones
  15. 15. Look for Limiting Options The Catalog… Other library databases… And even with web search engines like Google!
  16. 16. Truncation/Wildcard Symbols <ul><li>Example: educat* </li></ul><ul><li>educat ion </li></ul><ul><li>educat or </li></ul><ul><li>educat ors </li></ul><ul><li>educat ional … </li></ul>Use symbols to search for various forms of a word. (Symbols may be different in different databases!) <ul><li>Example: wom?n </li></ul><ul><li>wom a n </li></ul><ul><li>wom e n </li></ul>
  17. 17. Limit your Fields <ul><li>Limit where you are searching if you need to narrow or increase your results. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Browse Subjects <ul><li>Find out the recommended words and phrases that were used when the information was put into the database. </li></ul>