Research Tips

Database Searching Tips

When Searching in any electronic Database is important to know how to search it effectively.
The following Search tips are applied to many search engines.

1. Speak the Language ~

Identify Controlled Vocabulary by locating any Thesaurus, Subject Guide or Index for the database.
If those resources are not available, use the keyword search.
Then review your records for their subject information to refine your search terms.


2. Connect your words ~

Boolean Logic ~ use AND, OR, NOT to connect your concept words.
It is important to be clear on the function of the various words used as “connectors” or “operators” in computer searching.

AND connector:
Used to connect concepts or terms when both or all must be present.
This connector narrows a search.      Example: career and education

OR connector:
Used to group closely synonymous terms when at least one must be present.
This connector opens up or broadens a search.   Example: career or job

NOT connector:
Used to eliminate records containing a specific term.
This connector narrows a search.
It should be used with caution as it can often eliminate records that have great value.


3. Get to the point ~

Field Searching~ identifying a word to be found in a specific field of the record
e.g. author, subject, descriptor, title, etc.


4. Broaden your roots ~

Truncation ~ use of ? or * –Alternative endings for root words
e.g. comput? = computer, computing, computation


5. Maintain togetherness~

Phrases or a compound word
–Some databases are designed so that phrase searching is done by use of
quotation marks either “ “ or ‘ ‘

Proximity Operators-
–Number of words apart and in what order are indicated in various ways
–common symbols include <W>, <N>, < adj >