You've just done a search in a database for your thesis on social media policies and disinformation. You review the page to see how many results were returned and if they're relevant. How can you improve these results or your next searches?
Each resource, whether it’s QuickSearch, Google, or a specific database, may have different features in the same way shopping websites may differ by company, but most have similar search features. You may need to apply this knowledge of searching across a variety databases.
"How can I improve my search results?"
|"I have too many results"
|"I have too few results"
|1. Change your keywords to be more specific
|Use colleges instead of schools
|1. Change your keywords to be more broad
|Use renewable energy instead of solar power
|2. Use quotation marks to search for a more specific phrase
|Use "social media" rather than social media
|2. Use the Boolean Operator, OR, and connect two keywords
|misinformation OR "fake news"
|3. If available, use the drop down menus on the right side to search for keywords in specific fields
|3. If available, make sure the drop down menus on the right side to search in specific fields are on "All Text"
|4. Use the limiters to limit to certain results
|Selection options such as publication date, source type, peer-review, etc
|4. If applicable, use truncation to expand the power of your keywords
|Use environ* to catch words like environment, environmental, or environmentally
|5. Use the Boolean Operator, AND, to connect two keywords. Adding the additional keyword can limit your results
|Use renewable energy AND sustainable
|5. Check the Subjects under the results you did receive to look for ideas for other keywords
Use Limiters & Subjects to Get Specific Results
Many databases have similar options for limiting your results based on your information needs.
1. Use the drop down menus next to the search box to specify where the keywords should appear in the search results. Options include searching through the entire document, in the abstract (summary), in the subject terms, and more.
2. Before clicking Search, many databases have advanced search options you can select to limit your results.
3. In addition, the advanced search options limit your results can also be selected after you see your search results.
4. In certain databases there are subject headings listed under each search result. You can review these subjects to A) determine if the article is relevant to your needs or B) identify additional keywords you can use for your next search.
As mentioned above, select potential keywords you find in the subject headings and create new searches with the menu drop downs at the top of the page.
As your searching, what roadblocks are you encountering? Reflect on what has been successful and what has been challenging. Are you finding the right types of information to answer your questions? If not, review your research log and sources to see where you might need to make changes to your strategy. Remember, research is an "iterative" or circular process - it's ok to go backwards!
If you need help, ask a librarian! You can make a research appointment from our website.