Getting Started With Your Research
A self-help guide to quality information
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How do I improve my search?
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I found too much...
In some cases, even searches which seem quite specific can give you thousands of items. To focus your search in Acorn and the library databases, try adding additional words for the aspect of the topic you're interested in, connected with AND. For example:
If you enter more than one word, without AND or OR, some databases will automatically search for the words as a phrase. Others will look for your words anywhere in the record or even in the full text of the article.
there is no standard way to search for phrases: the "double quotes"
that work so well in Internet searches only work in some library databases.
For example, Acorn, the catalog, uses 'single quotes'. The Help within
each database will tell you how to do these searches.
Searching for "words anywhere" works best if your topic and terminology are very specific. For general topics or very commonly used words, a Subject search can increase the relevance of your results.
For example, in a Psychology database, "self esteem" will appear thousands of times, but will often be used peripherally. To find research focused on this topic, search for this phrase as a Subject.
found one good article, try using its subjects (sometimes called Descriptors)
to find additional material.
In the example below, a Subject search on physical attractiveness
AND self-esteem will retrieve articles relating the two concepts.
Many databases give options for restricting your search. Some of the more common limits to look for are:
databases, these options will only appear on an "Advanced" search
Remember you can always Ask Us!
Prepared for the Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to MIT Libraries for granting permission to modify and use their "Information Navigator" tutorial.