Take notes while you search. Write down words that you find in the list of subjects of relevant articles. Organize the words into a table (see PICO).
Did you get too many articles?
A good way to limit your search results is by using the filters on the left-hand side of the screen (above example is from the Academic Search Complete database from EBSCO). These filters offer various tools to refine your search results. Make sure you select "Full Text" and "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" so that you only retrieve articles that have links to the full-text version (make sure you download/save the article in PDF form so that it is saved on your computer). It is also suggested that you limit your results to articles published within the last five years, so that you have the most up-to-date information regarding your subject.
Did you get too few articles? Or none at all?
If your search is yielding limited results (or none at all) then it is possible that your search terms are too specific. Try starting your search with more broad keywords/search terms. Starting broad is a good way to begin your search because it usually yields the most results. Once more articles have been displayed, you can then limit your search results using the aforementioned filters (displayed above) on the left-side. Another possible cause for low search results is inaccurate or limiting keyword subjects. If two subject terms are not yielding the desired amount of results, try adjusting your search terms/keywords by using synonyms or alternate phrasing. One method for finding alternate search terms is to examine the record/abstract of a relevant article in our databases:
Subject terms will be listed just before the abstract, and often provide helpful examples of alternate keywords. Another useful resource when trying to gather potential search terms is the Credo Reference database. Credo Reference helps find information on all subjects from 607 reference sources such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, biographies, and more. After entering your terms into the search bar, you are then provided a list of results, including articles and images. One the right-hand side of your results, Credo provides a Mind Map for your search terms. The Mind Map displays your original search terms, while providing several other suggested terms that are affiliated in some way with your subject.
There are many ways to conduct your search in order to find exact articles. When searching a specific title, putting your search terms in quotation marks narrows down the search results. This method is called "exact phrase searching".
When you are searching for a specific author's body of work, use our "Advanced Search" feature on the library homepage.
Select "author" in the drop-down menu to the left of the search bar. In the search bar, enter the author's full name.
Do you need access to articles and/or books that are not available in our own databases/collection? Submit an Interlibrary Loan request to receive a copy from an outside institution. The video below explains the process for requesting an item through Interlibrary Loan.
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