Answered By: Steve Jung
Last Updated: Jan 07, 2019     Views: 35

First, make sure you are in the right database. Each database is about one subject, like Business or English. You will know this if you select your database from the library website and select the database subject. Those databases in bold are the "best bets". And don't be afraid to search multiple databases.

Second, try the "thesaurus" or "index" if the database has one. Enter a keyword and see what words are used by the database for the same thing. For example, it is not a boo boo or an owie, not even a cut. The database might call it a laceration. The database uses "subject headings" which are technical terms selected by librarians to organize and collect articles. You will also see a list of subject headings when you look at most abstracts.

Third, take that "subject heading" from the thesaurus, and put it in the search box. Change the dropdown from "keyword" or "anywhere" to "subject". This will greatly improve the precision of your search.

Fourth, read the abstracts of the various articles, you may find other subject headings that are more on point. Search with those.

Fifth, if the list is too large, add a keyword in the next search box. This will require that both terms are in use.

Sixth, limit by language, date, format, and, of course, peer review.

Ideally, subject searching is the best method. If your topic can be expressed as two subject headings, you are very lucky.


Prof. Jung