Western Libraries

Revising Your Search Strategy

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Script of Video:

If you’re searching for publications in a bibliographic database, library catalogue or other search tool, here are eight tips that can help you find more relevant results.

One, examine the titles, descriptions, subject headings, abstracts or tables of contents of relevant search results.  Identify additional terms to use in your search.

Two, for words with multiple spellings or endings, use a wildcard or truncation.  For example, using nurs* (nurs asterisk) will search for nurse, nurses, nursing, etc.  Check the search tool’s help page for details.

Three, use Boolean operators, such as AND, OR, or NOT as appropriate.

Four, limit your search results to a specific date range, to peer-reviewed or scholarly sources, to specific languages, and so on.

Five, for relevant items you have already found, particularly review articles, look at the bibliography or reference list.

Six, using a citation database, like Scopus, Web of Science, or Google Scholar, look for publications that cite relevant items you have already found.

Seven, if the database has a ‘related’ or ‘suggested’ articles link, make sure to check those out.

And lastly, eight, try a different database.  Each database has its strengths and weaknesses. Visit the Program Guide [Now called 'Research Guides'] relevant to your topic for suggestions.

Thank you for watching. And for further assistance, please contact the library.