Answered By: Paige Mann
Last Updated: Dec 11, 2015     Views: 75

The suggestions below apply to many, but not all search tools. To make the most of each search tool's search functions, please read their help sections.

Too many results?

Get only phrases by using quotation marks (")

For example, a search for "psychology of gender" retrieves results that locates just that phrase and ignores other results such as "gender psychology" or results that include only one of those words.

Eliminate irrelevant results by using subjects

Subjects (sometimes called descriptors) are labels that have been thoughtfully assigned to search results. Pay special attention to these since they introduce you to the language of your topic. For example, a search for iphones will yield a long list of results that may briefly mention the iPhone in its text. You may improve this search by limiting results to suggested subject such as: iPhone (Smartphone), Smartphones, Cell phones, etc.

Too few results?

Identify search terms by reading

Read through your search results & suggested subjects. Read abstracts (summaries), encyclopedia articles, book introductions, etc. to identify the language used by experts to describe and locate information on your topic.

Use search terms that narrow and broaden your search

For example, researching the effects of television on child development could be narrowed by searching for child development effects of "The Simpsons." The search could be broadened by searching for child development effects of media.

Get alternate spellings/endings of words by using asterisks (*)

For example, a search for environment* retrieves environment, environments, environmental, environmentalist, environmentalists, environmentalism, etc.

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