Revising & Refining Your Search
Why Revise and Refine?
"First attempts at searching do not always produce adequate results" (ACRL Framework for Information Literacy) - and that's ok! It's a chance for you to demonstrate your creativity and flexibility as you utilize search tools to produce results that are useful for you. You might find that you're getting to few results, or too many. You might find that your research needs have changed as your project evolves.
Tracking what research strategies work for you using your research log will help you when you need to revise your search. You'll have a record of what worked for you, and what didn't work.
Think about using some of the search strategies below to revise and refine your searches. Try using Boolean Operators to narrow or broaden your search results. Explore the options available from the databases. Many databases allow searching by indexing terms or a thesaurus and other search limits such as publication date and scholarly journals.
Credit: Furman University
One way to formulate effective search statements is to use Boolean Operators. Boolean Operators can be used to narrow or broaden your search results when you are searching an electronic database. The three Boolean Operators are AND, OR, and NOT.
AND - Narrows a search by connecting two or more concepts. This search finds items that contain endangered and birds.
OR - Broadens the search by adding concepts. This search finds items that contain either endangered or items that contain birds.
NOT - Excludes search terms to eliminate a concept. The search endangered NOT birds finds items that contain endangered but eliminates items that contain birds.
Too Many Search Results ?
Too Few Search Results ?
Adapted from DIY Library Project, Portland State University Library
(Credit: University of Washington Libraries)
Many databases use controlled vocabulary. Controlled vocabulary is an organized arrangement of words and phrases used to index content and/or retrieve content through browsing or searching. Subject headings, subject terms, thesaurus terms, and descriptors are examples of controlled vocabulary. Different disciplines use different controlled vocabularies.
Most databases give you the option of using limits to narrow your search results. A few of the most commonly used limits are Full Text, Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals and Date. Others may be language, document type and publication/source type. The options will vary by the database.
(click on the image above to see the complete record)
Tips to consider whether or not a citation record is useful :
Does it relate in any way to your original topic?
Using your research log to keep track of new keywords, subject terms, and sources will help you to keep track of your research.
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