Helpful Tips for Database Searches

Having trouble finding articles in our databases?  Try these tips to improve your results!


Using Keywords

  • Databases are designed to be more precise and objective than search engines like Google.  Because of this, they can't guess what you're looking for.  So instead of typing in a sentence or question, try to shorten your search down to a few keywords, and separate them using "and."
  • If any of your keywords are multiple words (like social media), put them in quotation marks. For example:
    • Google search: is social media bad for teens?
    • Database search: "social media" AND teenagers

Finding Synonyms

  • Once you have your keywords, try to think of other words that have similar meanings. For example, adolescents or teens could be synonyms for teenagers.
  • If you can come up with any, group them together in parentheses, separated by "or." For example:
    • (adolescents OR teens OR teenagers)
  • So our search from before becomes:
    • "social media" AND (adolescents OR teens OR teenagers)

Looking for All Forms of a Word

  • If you put the asterisk ( * ) symbol after the root of a word, the database will return anything that starts with that root. Some examples:
    • If you put vaccin* into the search bar, it will return anything with vaccine, vaccines, vaccination, vaccinations, vaccinating, vaccinated, etc.
    • If you type child*, it will return child, children, childhood, etc.
  • If you insert a question mark ( ? ) into a word, it serves as a wildcard, which can serve as any letter. Some examples:
    • If you type wom?n into the search, it will return women or woman.
    • If you put ne?t, it would return neat, nest, or next.
  • Last Updated Aug 07, 2022
  • Views 12
  • Answered By Jonathan Beam

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