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Search Techniques

Search Techniques

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As a UCR student, you have access to several different book, article, and full-text databases through the Library. Below are some tips to help you search any database, no matter which one you are using.

Only use key words

Just type in the KEY words of your search, eliminating minor or unnecessary words.

Topic:  The impact of fast food on obesity in children   KEYwords:  FAST FOOD, OBESITY, CHILDREN 

Use advanced or guided search when available

The advanced or guided search screen provides multiple search boxes allowing you to combine search terms or specify search categories, such as journal title, title, or descriptor.  

Use multiple search terms 

The connecting words - AND, OR, and NOT help you combine concepts, as well as expand or narrow your search.

 Search for word variations

Most databases provide an option to use certain symbols to search for variations of words that may be important to your search.

  • Most wom?n finds woman or women  -  the ? replaces one letter
  • philosoph* finds philosopher, philosophers, philosophy...    the  *  (asterick)  for multiple word endings

These symbols can vary from database to database, so check "Help" or "Search Tips" in the database you are searching to find the best one for your needs.

Focus your search using limits

Options to limit your search are often found at the bottom of the screen. These limits can include English language, peer review journals, document type, full text, and date.

Try using limits if you retrieve too many results.

Identify subjects or descriptors for your topic

Look at the subject terms or descriptors that are listed with the article or reference to the article. These terms are standard within the database, and often help you locate more articles on that topic. Some resources, such as PsycINFO or ERIC use a thesaurus which points to the best subject terms based on your keywords. Take advantage of these features when they are available; often you will find more relevant material.

Other suggestions

Still having trouble?  Check the Help section of the database.

In addition, contact  Librarians for assistance!  We can help you identify subject terms/descriptors for your search, suggest search strategies, and provide additional assistance.

Last modified: 5/9/2008 2:00 PM by Z. Wang

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