The library website has a variety of tools and databases to make finding the right sources easier. Applying advanced searching techniques can help you find the exact article you need! Here’s how to research more efficiently.
Find the keywords
For this example, let’s say the topic you want to research is: What are the effects of violent video games on teenagers? Instead of typing that entire phrase into the search box, narrow it down to the key words as the other words might pull results you are not looking for. In this case that would be teenagers, video games and violence.
Entering just these terms into the Ebscohost Academic Search Premier database search engine yields 134 results. Let’s expand on that.
Expanding your search
Once you have narrowed down your search to the keywords, you can ensure that you gather the most articles about your subject as possible by using Boolean search operators and truncation. Don’t let those five-dollar words intimidate you, it’s actually quite simple!
A Boolean search is where you use words (such as and, or, and not) to further specify your search. There are other words that might be used instead of “teenagers” to refer to that age group such as “adolescents”; the same applies to “violence”. Be sure to separate related terms with parenthesis.
To further expand our search we can use truncation which includes various spellings or endings of a word into your search. For our example, instead of searching for “teenagers” you can type “teen*“, which encompasses both teen and teenagers. As pictured below, these methods more than doubled the yield!
Refining the results
Now the final, and oddly satisfying, step is to refine your search. I like to start by limiting my search to scholarly articles within the last ten years.
Lastly, you can go to Subject Thesaurus Term and choose the terms that pertain the most to the topic or aspect you’re trying to research.
This narrows our results to 124 highly relevant articles.
Applying these advanced search methods can make academic research a breeze! Note that this was done on EBSCOhost Academic Search Premier, which is an all-around great resource for any subject, but these same tips can apply to most other databases listed on the library website as well as OneSearch on the library home page.
For more information, the Pfau library will be hosting Advanced Database Search workshops from February 6-7 at PL-2005 Instruction Room.