Database Search Tips: Search Tips

What are some ways to come up with good search terms?

Use terms found in your background reading on the subject

Ask other people in the field for terms used to describe your topic

Use the Thesaurus or Subject Terms listings, if available, in the databases you are searching

When you find a record for an item that is useful to you, look at its subject headings or descriptors for more ideas

Find appropriate Library of Congress Subject Headings if you are searching library catalogs (and some databases, such as Project Muse).  LoC Subject Headings can be found in print in the Reference Room or online through the Subjects button in WorldCat's Advanced Search option

This You Tube video (From Question to Keyword) or this short Tutorial (Generating Search Terms) might also help

If the results list is too big, how can you narrow it down?

Try searching only the Abstract, or even the Title field, rather than the whole item

Try searching by Subject, rather than by Keyword (or by a combination of Subjects and Keywords or other fields)

Use AND between search terms to find items with or about all of of your terms, not just one of them

Try phrase searching (usually by using " " around the phrase)

Use other limiters, if appropriate, such as a specific type of publication (Peer Reviewed, for example) or a specific time period

Ask for help

What can you do if your search does not yield enough results?

Check your search to see if you entered it and spelled it as you intended

Check to see if the database you are searching is appropriate for your topic (information about the database can usually found by clicking an i or About or similar button or tab or, in the library databases list, if you mouse over the database title; with EBSCO databases, click on Choose Databases>> to get to this information)

Check the Help feature or Search Tips to see if you are entering your searches correctly for that database

Try other search terms and use OR between the terms to find items with any one of the terms

Try using a truncation symbol (often an * or ?) to retrieve results with varying forms of a word (educat*, for example)

Try searching the whole item and search by Keyword, rather than by Subject

Remove limiters.  For example, even if a news or review article may not be directly useful to you, it might lead you to a person or institution doing work on your topic

Look at the bibliographies of items that are closely related to your topic.  Some of these sources may be very helpful or may in turn lead you to useful sources

Try searching another database or library catalog

Take a break and try again later - this can be a big help!

Ask for help

Multiple Database Search

EBSCO databases can be searched simultaneously. To add one or more additional EBSCO databases to your search, just click on the Choose Databases >> link and select the databases you would like to add.