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Five Strategies for Effective Searching

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Emily B

on 27 November 2015

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Transcript of Five Strategies for Effective Searching

Five Strategies for Effective Searching
Five Strategies for Effective Searching
1. Know what you're Searching for

Academic Journals
great for high quality and current research
contain "peer reviewed" articles

3. Database Selection
By Emily B., MLIS
4. Refine your Search

Look at the bibliography of a piece of research you have identified as useful.

All journal articles or reports should contain a bibliography, and many databases have features such as Cited by and/or Related Documents.

Or also search for other articles by the cited authors, as it is quite likely they may have produced some other research which you will find useful.
Boolean Operator: "OR"
Be able to describe strategies for developing an effective search across multiple platforms
First and foremost know what you want to research!
Pick a topic

Make sure your topic is appropriate for the class you are in

Understand your assignment details- Find out how many and what types of sources do you need

Think of keywords and phrases NOT sentences

For each concept or term you will want to think of synonyms, tenses, technical terminology or related words to find different results

ex. 'gun control', other terms could include firearms and law or legislation, guns and ownership, or guns and violent crimes
ASA vs American Sociology Association
*note: resources can also help with identifying those key words
Google Scholar - broadly search search for scholarly literature.

Generally .gov, .edu, .org sites tend to be the most credible

Use websites only when appropriate and question their credibility
Identify key terms and concepts related to your topic area

If you want to search for multiple keywords simultaneously use the AND operator in between search terms to find articles containing all words searched
Ex. Crime AND Poverty AND Gender

Include the Boolean operator
between terms to retrieve articles that mention either term
ex. Poverty OR "low income"

generally will retrieve a
larger set of results

is especially useful when you are searching with terms that are synonyms or that deal with the same basic concept.

When you conduct a general search, your results list is generally large- sometimes even irrelevant results.
....But some refining tips can help narrow your results list down as well as get rid of some of those irrelevant results
From the initial search, you will want to analyze your results

How much information is available on my topic?
Are there better terms that I could be using?
Will I need change my topic or narrow or expand my focus?
Truncating can help retrieve all variants of a term.
For ex.: econ*
By using the * you will retrieve results such as economy, economics, economical etc.

Using the truncation symbol will allow you to broaden your search
Phrase searching is when you use "quotation marks" to search for phrases

For ex. "social class"
The quotation marks ensure that the database will only return results with your phrase exactly as you have entered it, i.e. only results with "social class" rather than results containing the words social or class will be found.
Combining Boolean Operators in your search
To make even better use of Boolean operators, you can use parentheses to nest terms within other terms.

ex. ("low income" OR poverty) AND "academic achievement"

Use parentheses when you are using synonyms (OR boolean operator)

Understand not all articles have full text availability
If full text isn't available, place an Interlibrary Loan request

Search more than one database
no one database does it all

Multiple searches in the same database are the norm
Don't be afraid to adjust or refocus your topic once you start researching
If you are not finding a lot of information on your topic after using these search methods you may need a broader topic or tweak your focus i.e. time, population, geographic region

Or, perhaps look for the information in a different source

Above all else don't give up!! Speak to a librarian if you need help

All Terms

(children OR youth)
"Low Income"
Either of these terms
All three terms
Just two terms
Popular Journals/Newspapers
a great window into what the public thinks
Library Databases
Library Catalog
Great for overviews
Journals, Videos, etc.
Note: To help you decide which database to use, look at the description next to the title because most are subject specific.
2.Select the Appropriate Search Vocabulary
Refining Methods
Advanced Search Box
Database limiters
Nearly all databases have an advanced search option. This will allow you to specify which fields you want to search including author name, article title, publication title, subject, etc.

All databases have additional limiters.

They will generally appear on either the left or right hand side of the search results page.

Examples of limiters include full text, date, subjects, population, peer reviewed

Limiting your search is another way to narrow down your results

Other Database Tips
Advanced Search Box

Subject Headings

Phrase Searching


Combine Search terms & concepts by using Boolean Logic: AND, OR, NOT

You can create a free account which will allow you to save searches

Databases will provide you with a formatted citation!!

Widening your research
5. Manage your research
Phrase Searching

Subject Headings
are “official” headings, or controlled vocabulary used to describe a concept. (Think 'tags') The library catalog and database entries have linkable subject headings listed for easier location of materials on your topic.

Some databases have a thesaurus which you can use to generate these subject headings.An example is Academic Search Complete, where this function is known as subject terms.

For example, ff you enter feminism in the search box, a result list of suggested terms will appear. When you click on a term available Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, or Related Terms will appear.

You can mark one or multiple terms and click the Add button. The terms are added to the search field

Boolean Operator: 'AND'
It’s important to keep track of resources you are planning to use in your research assignment for citation purposes. Please make sure you cite your resources and you are doing it properly -Otherwise you are plagiarizing!
Ways to Manage
Database Tools
Bibliographic Management Systems

Mendeley & Zotero
Are free resources that help you manage your references

For further information see: www.zotero.com
MS Word
MS word has the functionality to create a bibliography as well
1. Know what you're searching for
2. Use the appropriate search vocabulary
3. Select the right Database
4. Refine your search
5. Manage your research

Research Guides
Provides examples of all three of these sources in one spot!
Subject Headings
Let's test what we have learned...
Export your citation to a Bibliographic Management system
Call (210) 784-1500

will generally retrieve a
smaller set of results
If you need to exclude a topic from your results use NOT to exclude a term.
Ex. Crime AND Poverty NOT (Children OR Youth)
Boolean Operator: "NOT"
Or select the browse by subject tab to make the database list more manageable
Question 1: http://www.polleverywhere.com/multiple_choice_polls/PHpBUYuZsx8qv2l

Question 2: http://www.polleverywhere.com/multiple_choice_polls/HxBrlJ6KZLT9Gta
Quiz time...
Question 3. http://www.polleverywhere.com/multiple_choice_polls/TA1974r2SCpj3nZ

Last question!
Question 4: http://www.polleverywhere.com/multiple_choice_polls/29XlEYYtdL0QlgH

Live Demo Time!

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