Most databases, both from your library and ones such as Google Scholar on the Internet, provide the option to do a Basic Search or an Advanced Search. When ever you have the option, always select the advanced search. Advanced Search usually provides you with several search boxes, all
|Basic Search||Advanced Search|
|Has only one search box.||Provides several rows of search boxes making it easier to search a complex topic.|
|Provides some basic limit options such as Date Range.||Provides additional limit options useful to help narrow your search results.|
|Only option is to search ALL available fields in the database - this can pull in a lot of unrelated resources.||Default is to search ALL available fields in the database, but you can select a specific field such as the Title, Author or Subject field to search in instead.|
|Harder to do a Boolean search.||Easier to do a Boolean search.|
The approach you take when entering your search terms in a library database will affect the results you get. Before building a search, think about how you want to combine your search terms.
Boolean Searching lets you combine search terms using the words AND and OR:
AND - Use AND to combine search terms for different concepts within your topic. AND tells the database to only retrieve results that contain ALL the terms you typed as long as they appear somewhere in the fields searched. This will narrow your results.
Example: anorexia AND depression - anorexia might appear in the title field while depression might appear in the middle of the abstract.
OR - Use OR to connect synonyms (or antonyms) related to a single concept within your topic. OR tells the database to retrieve ANY results where it finds at least one of these terms in any of the fields searched. This will broaden your search to increase the number of items in your results list.
Example: anorexia OR bulimia - some of the results might only find anorexia in the searchable fields, other results might only find the term eating disorders while other results might find both terms.
Including Phrases in a Search: Many library and Internet databases need you to tell them to treat a series of words as a n exact phrase by placing those words inside quotation marks. You can check a database's Help section to see if you need to do so or simply try placing it in quotes to see if you get better results.
Example: "eating disorders" yields more relevant results than eating disorders because most databases do one of the following:
Truncation (*) Function - Many databases let you use an asterisk symbol at the end of a word or phrase to bring back variations of that word or phrase that start with the root you placed before the asterisk. This can be a valuable search tool when used effectively.
Example: teen* will tell the database or look for the words teen, teens, teenager, teenagers, etc. and bring back any items that use at least one of those variations. "college student*" will find any items that use the phrase "college student or "college students".
Warning: While you can decide where to truncate the word/phrase, be careful not to shorten the root too much as it may retrieve too many irrelevant results.
For example: bul* will find bully, bullying and bullies, it will also may find bulk, bull, bullet, etc. If what you want is actually the concept of bullying a more effective place to truncate the word is at bull*. Where you are searching may also impact it's effectiveness. In a multidisciplinary database or the Internet you may need to combine it with another concept such as bull* AND "psychological impact".
Most of our databases, including Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, provide limit options that you can use to help narrow your search. Most databases have at least these two limits:
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection and many of our other databases provide additional limits you may want to use such as:
Some Databases have Unique Limits such as:
Step 1: Summarize your topic or create a research statement/question to identify what you want to find/learn. Sample question: Do depression and eating disorders relate to each other and what impact, if any, do they have on body image.
Step 2: Pull out two or three main concepts that are the most important to you - this will give you a starting point. Do depression and eating disorders relate to each other and what impact, if any, do they have on body image. For this search example I selected depression, eating disorders and body image.
Step 3: Take a few minutes to think about each concept. Make a list of any key words or phrases that come to your mind for each concept which could be used as a search term based on what you already know about that concept. Example:
Concept 1 - depression
Concept 2 - eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia
Concept 3 - body image
Step 4: Select a database, for this example Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection was used. Connect to the database from this Course Guide or from the Library's website mouse over Research, click on Databases, select the Alphabetical Databases link and select Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection from the A-Z list. From off campus you will be prompted to login - use your student email/Blackboard username and password (contact e for help if you don't know your login info).
Step 5: This database defaults to the "Advanced Search" option so you should see three rows of search boxes and Boolean searching. We are going to add our search terms into the database by focusing on a single concept for each row, so Concept 1 will go on the top row, Concept 2 on the middle row and Concept 3 on the bottom row. The database has already placed the AND in between the top and middle rows and the middle and bottom rows for us so we don't have to worry about that. If we have more than one search term for a concept we will use an OR in between each one in that row's search box.
Step 6: Narrowing your search down further:
Here is an image of what my search looks like with my Concept 1 searching just in the SU Subject Terms field, my Concept 2 and 3 searching all searchable fields and a publication date limit set to the current 7 years: