Database Searching Tips and Strategies



Database searching Tips and Strategies


be aware of the differences among keyword, subject, and text searching

keyword usually pulls from a FEW fields, such as article title, journal title, author, and subject
• subject pulls from ONE field only (usually entitled either "subject" or "descriptors" in the drop-down menu)
• text (sometimes called full-text) searches EVERY WORD of the article and citation (beware of too much information!

start with keyword, and then look in the citation records for good subject headings; searching by subject will result in fewer and more accurate results

use the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT to search more accurately

truncate your terms by using an asterisk to form a word stem; eg. child* will retrieve child, child's, childhood, children

• ensure you have no typos

• double-check your spelling, especially of names, places, and events

• if words need to be kept together, put quotation marks around them

• think of other ways to say the same or similar ideas

• instead of putting all your terms in one search box, break them up into two or three search boxes

• ensure that the drop-down menu reflects what YOU want it to reflect (keyword, subject, etc.)

• when you get too many hits, you need to refine your terms by narrowing your focus and/or adding another search term

if you don't get enough hits, your terms are too specific and you need to broaden your subject

know the terminology:

• abstract:brief summary of the article that allows you to decide if the full article is something you could use
• citation: consists of the author, title of the article, title of the magazine or journal, volume number, issue number (sometimes), page numbers, and date
• full text: this refers to the complete electronic text of an article; images such as photographs, pictures, charts, and other graphics, are not always included
• PDF: the best version of an online article is the "Portable Digital Format" since it is a total replica of the print version of the journal, including all text, page numbers, illustrations, graphs, charts, etc.

• if the database doesn't includelink to the full-text article, look for the title of the JOURNAL in Journal Finder. If it's there, then see if the article you want falls in the full-text date range.

• search multiple databases: EBSCOHost, PowerSearch