Advanced Search StrategiesInformation Skills tutorial Learning Resource Centre Information Services
What this tutorial covers • searching electronically • defining your search • search strings • operators • expanding/narrowing searches • electronic resources
Your aim…. • to get a small number of • relevant • specific • quality results….
Define your search • do a pre-search analysis • list: • topic • key words • synonyms (similar words) • spellings (e.g. Americanisms) • broader terms
Search strings • a phrase put together for searching is called asearch string • example: "sustainable development" and ecology and ecosystems not forests
Operators to aid searching • quotation marks • limiting • wildcards • brackets • Boolean operators
Quotation marks • for phrases • finds words next to each other • “wild flowers” • “landscape design” • “turbine efficiency” • “mad cow disease”
Limiting • by year (e.g. only articles after 2000) • by language (e.g. English only) • by document type (eg review, report) • by descriptor where available • ti = title • au = author • ab = abstract etc
Wildcards or truncation • usually * but sometimes ? or ! or other symbol • abbreviation • specifies part of a word • educ* • advert* • organi*ation • wom*n • cat* or felin* …… but what’s wrong here?
Answer: • cat* will find • cat, cats • cattle, catch, cathedral, category, catastrophe, catastrophic, cataclysmic, catalogue, catfish…. • and all other words starting with cat…. • …not what is needed in this case!
Brackets (parentheses) • order of searching by the search engine: • (brackets) • not • and • or • water and pollution not river • river and (otter or stoat)
Boolean operators • named after George Boole, English mathematician 1815-64 • Boolean operators are basically just…. • AND / OR / NOT …….!
Boolean operators: OR • OR - broadens, gives most results • if you don’t mind either term e.g. solar or sun, or both together solar sun solar and sun
Boolean operators: AND • AND – if you must have both terms - narrows, reduces the number • e.g. results for only “solar and energy” together solar energy solar + energy
Boolean operators: NOT • NOT – removes terms e.g. solar energy results, but without any references to heating heating solar energy solar energy + heating
If you don’t get enough results expand the topic – use more, or different, terms e.g: topic: why do foster parents stop fostering? List of key words for searching:(remember the pre-search analysis?) child care foster care disruption adoption fostering breakdown caring failure disturbances placement foster parents cease child foster families fail selection child fostering problem approval care stop assessments issues interviews training visits retention Tip:find more keywords from previous search results
If you get too many results • if you get too many hits, you need to • refine your search • narrow it down by setting Limits (by year, language etc) • try different key words from the pre-search analysis list
More examples... • (cats and dogs) • (cats or felines) • chick* or hen* or poultry or fowl* • “contact lens” • (schools and colleges) not (nurseries or kindergartens) • Liverpool and “football club” not Everton
General tips... • always check the Help facility • be prepared to do many searches using different keywords • use keywords from your previous search results • the more operators and limits you use, the more relevant your results will be
Useful facilities in databases advanced search browse journals keyword search Google images marked results email results subject search narrow by subdivision help facility stop words, wildcards refereed publications alerting services personal profile shopping basket
Evaluating your results What do you think of your search results????? Are they…What about… …relevant? …authority? …accurate? …coverage? …current? …content? …good quality? …sources?
Useful books in the library • searching the Internet • online searching • search engine guides • study skills section
Finally….. • Please ask the library staff if you need help • Happy searching!
Thank you ! Learning Resource Centre Information Services