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Database Search Tips: Search
Results Tips

Strategies to Narrow Your Search

If you have too many results, or your results are not specific enough, then try some of these strategies to focus your search.

 

  • Add another concept to your search (using the Boolean AND)  For example: Obesity AND Soft Drinks AND Child* instead of only Obesity AND Soft Drinks
  • If you are searching with keywords, look for any relevant subject headings
  • Use the most specific keywords or subject headings Example: Alzheimer Disease instead of Dementia
  • Use fewer or no synonyms within a concept search (OR)
  • In keyword searches, use fewer or no truncation symbols
  • In subject heading searches, use subheadings to narrow the focus of a subject
  • In subject heading searches, make a subject heading a "Major" subject heading
  • Limit your search to type of article, language, age group, years, etc
  • Field search for more precision

  • Look at your research question-- Is it too broad?

Strategies to Broaden Your Search

If you have not found any results, or very few results, use some of these strategies to broaden your search.

 

  • Look for misspellings in your search terms
  • Remove the least important concept from your search. The more concepts that you AND together, the narrower the results
  • Use broader or related keywords and/or subject headings For example: Obesity instead of Morbid Obesity
  • Add synonyms for each search concept (Using the Boolean OR)
  • In keywords searches, use the truncation symbol to retrieve word variations
  • If you have added limiters to your search, remove them
  • Try a different database
  • Review your research question-- Is it too narrow?

Manage Search Results

Most databases allow you to set-up a free account.  Use this tool to help you manage your search results.

 

  • Save search records into folders.  As you search, add relevant records to a folder.
  • Save your search history.  You probably won't complete all of your searching in one session.  Instead of writing down all of the searches that you have performed (so you don't repeat yourself later), save your search history in an account.
  • Set-up search alerts.  If you have developed a good search strategy, you can have the database alert you when a new article is added based on your search criteria.

 

 



EBSCO databases (including CINAHL)

  1. Click on "Sign In" (upper right corner)
  2. Click on "Create a New Account"
  3. Complete the required information
  4. Click on "Folder" (upper right corner) to access your account
  5. Once in your account, click on "Help" (upper right corner) and then click on "Using Folders" (left side of the screen) for information about using it.

ProQuest Databases (including ERIC and PsycINFO)

  1. Click on "My Research" (upper right corner)
  2. Click on "Create a My Research Account"
  3. Complete the required information
  4. Click on "My Research" to access your account.
  5. Once in your account, click on "Help" (upper right corner) for information about using it.

PubMed

  1. Click on "Sign in to My NCBI" (upper right corner)
  2. Click on "Register for an NCBI Account"
  3. Complete the required information
  4. Click on "My NCBI" to access your account
  5. Once in your account, click on "Help" (upper right corner) for information about using it.