The various search tips listed on this page can be used in many different databases to help you structure your search. Using these can help you find more useful results for your particular research topic. If you need help developing a search strategy, please contact a librarian!
You can use Boolean search terms to help connect different ides when searching in OneSearch or a database.
There are three different Boolean terms: AND, OR, and NOT. Each term is used for a different purpose.
AND - put AND in between different concepts or parts of a research question to link them together. For example:
"comic books" AND illustration
AND will bring back a smaller list of results
OR - put OR in between similar or synonymous concepts. For example:
"comic books" OR "graphic novels"
OR will bring back a larger list of results
NOT - use NOT when you want to eliminate a word or concept from your results list. For example:
"comic books" NOT "comic strips"
Your search strategy (i.e., the words you choose and how you type them in the search box) will determine the effectiveness of your search. Using the search tips described on this page, as well as trying a combination of terms, will help you create effective search strategies. It's common to start with a broad search such as information literacy, but as you get more precise in your research, you can focus your search strategy to something like this: "information literacy" "higher education" librar*. This would be a focused and effective search strategy to find articles about the topic of information literacy in higher education that specifically mention one of the following words: library, libraries, or librarian.
When conducting a search in OneSearch or a database, you can use quotation marks to search for a particular phrase.
For example, you might be searching for articles about comic books. Instead of typing comic books into the search bar, try adding quotation marks and type "comic books". Without those quotation marks, the database is looking for any article record that has either the word comic, the word books, or the phrase comic books. By placing the quotation marks around your phrase, you are telling the database to only find results with those two words next to each other.
Keep in mind that if you do use quotes, put them around terms that make sense next to each other. If you put "comic book illustration" in quotes, the database needs to find those three words in a row. While that might happen in some cases, it will likely weed out several articles on your topic that could be useful to you.
Always take a few seconds to note the Subjects used on articles you like. These can be great terms to use to start another search or to try in another database. For example, if you typed the words sport management in a search box and you found a fantastic article, you'd want to note that subject terms used for that article are "sports administration" and "management education." Then you could use those Subject terms to search for additional articles in the databases. You can see in the screenshot below that the subject terms are blue hyperlinks - so you can use those links to go search for articles with those specific subjects. Just note that when you do that, you lose your original search. I recommend jotting down a few terms vs. clicking on the hyperlinks right away.
Take advantage of the truncation symbol * -- the asterisk used at the end of a word tells the search engine you want all forms of that word.
For example, putting the * at the end of motivat* will search for motivate, motivating, and motivation all in one search.
This will result in a larger search result set...so if your search is already too big, this isn't a great tool to use. On the other hand, if you're not sure you're getting a good glimpse at all of the articles you should be, then doing a truncation search can help you see more!
Utilizing sources cited within articles is a smart way to take advantage of great resources you've already found. Say you've found a terrific article ...you'll want to take a look at the bibliography or footnotes to see if it leads you to other sources that might be useful for your research. Fully utilize the resources you find!
Some of the databases provide you shortcuts to articles cited within sources - watch for those! Some databases also give you links to "related articles" that might be useful for your topic. After you find an article that meets your needs, be sure to look closely for these additional shortcuts to help you with your research.