Getting Started with Library Research
Searching databases can be tricky. Here are some tips to help you think about ways to structure your searches to find more relevant results. Contact your librarian to get additional help or to see how these tricks can be used.
Limit your search to get fewer results:
- Put phrases in quotations. For example, search "Mona Lisa" or "Art Nouveau" using quotation marks to keep those words next to each other.
- Use the Advanced Search feature in databases to make it easier to do multiple word searches, and to use AND/NOT operators.
- Putting AND between words makes sure your results include all of your key words.
- Putting NOT between words makes it so that you do not get results with words you do not want.
- Use filters. Most databases have filters or facets to the side of the results. Use these to narrow by date, result type, language, and subject.
Expand your search to get more results:
- Putting an asterisk (*) in place of a word ending will get more results. For example, "build*" will bring up results that include build(s), building(s), builder(s).
- Use OR in the search box for synonyms or related words. For example, church OR abbey, will get results with either of those words.
- Spell check! Most databases do not spell check. If you are not getting enough results, or if your results seem off, make sure the search terms are spelled correctly.