- State your topic or research question in your own words.
- Identify the most important keywords (usually the nouns) or short, commonly used phrases.
- Think of variations (singular, plural) and synonyms for your terms. It may help to check Thesaurus.com.
- Create an initial search statement using connectors or logical operators (especially AND, OR) and, if appropriate, wildcards and limiters.
- Try it out in one or more databases and/or Library Catalog.
- Look for other good keywords and subject terms in search results.
- Try revised searches until you're satisfied with the results.
- Depending on the volume of results, consider narrowing or broadening your topic.
- If you're having difficulties, contact us.
Using connectors and wildcards:
Find more (broaden your results) with OR and wildcards:
computer or machine (finds either term)
intelligent or intelligence
intelligen* (finds intelligence, intelligent, etc.)
Find less (narrow your results) with AND:
machine learning and word context (finds both terms)
Find less with NOT:
machine learning not word context (excludes records that mention word context)
Sample search statement:
(computer or machine) and intelligen*
- Narrow results with standard limiters (peer-reviewed, date, document type, language, etc.)
- Some databases allow quotation marks for an "exact phrase"
- Try restricting some terms to the title or abstract field
- Try restricting some terms to the subject or descriptors field. Subject terms can vary from database to database but using them usually improves relevance so look for them in results displays and detailed records.
If you're not finding enough:
- Look for different, relevant keywords or subject terms to try
- Simplify your search by removing less critical earch terms or limiters
- Expand some terms to the all text or full text field, if provided
- Try a different database or OneSearch