When you get ready to do a literature review or look for relevant articles for your paper, many indexes are now available electronically. Using a computer to search for articles can save time by being faster, covering more material, and supplying a summary of the article. But remember.... your search results will only be as good as the search you enter into the computer.
What is a Database?
A database is a collection of information organized around a subject and accessible by a computer.
Define Your Topic
State your topic in a concise yet complete statement or question, e.g., What are effective instructional strategies for teaching children in a multicultural environment?
Choose your database
Based on the topic choose appropriate subject-related databases to search. You may wish to consult a librarian for help in choosing them.
Create a Search Strategy
Design a plan for terms you wish to enter and how you wish to combine them, including:
- Identify the main concepts.
- Choose terms to stand for the concepts.
- Combine terms correctly.
- Analyze your search results.
Most databases understand three concepts: AND, OR, NOT.
Are they too broad, too narrow? If there are too many results, try adding another concept, such as a particular population, or limit to a range of years. If the results are too narrow, consider whether you have too many concepts. Can you eliminate one and get worthwhile results? Can you find synonyms to stand for terms?
You may wish to practice creating a search strategy. This Search Strategy Tutorial contains the various components of putting together a successful computer search.
If you have any questions or would like assistance in putting together a research strategy, please come by the Peabody Library service desk for help.