Tips For Database Searching

Here are a few tips to help make your searching more focused and effective:

I got too many results. What can I do to limit or narrow my search?

  1. Limit your search by date
  2. Limit your search by language
  3. Limit your search by type of material - journal articles only? Dissertations? Government documents? Books? Chapters/articles in books? Many databases will allow these choices. In the catalog, you can also limit by document type.
  4. Add more terms. Connect terms with the Boolean "and". This tells the system that both terms must appear in a record. For example: teens and drinking

I got too few results. What can I do to broaden my search?

  1. Include a larger timeframe
  2. Include synonyms. Connect these word with the Boolean "or". You may have to enclose them in parentheses. For example, (teens or youth or adolescents)
  3. Use the "wildcard" or truncation symbol, often an asterisk, question mark or pound sign (*, ?, #) to get different spellings or plurals. Read the "help" screens to see which symbol the database uses. For example, teen* will retrieve teens, teenager, teenagers, teeny.