Two ways to Search a Database

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Two ways to search a database.

There are a lot of databases out there. There are basically two different ways to search them. The all-in-one approach and the search history combination approach. Some databases will offer both options and some will not.

The all-in-one approach is available in most databases. In the first row, you describe one aspect of your search topic using search terms, for example: cat OR kitten OR feline. In the second row, you describe another aspect of your search topic, for example: Siamese OR Bengalese OR spotted. The two rows, or aspects, are connected with the word AND.

The advantage of this type of searching is that you can see your whole search on one screen, and you can take care of things all in one search. The disadvantage is that it's not obvious which terms are working well for your search, since they're all mixed together, like numerous variables in a single equation.

The search history combination approach is available through many databases, often through the search history. Some databases, like CINAHL, will force you to use this approach. For search number one, you type cat OR kitten OR feline, and get your first big set of search results. For search number two, you type Siamese OR Bengalese OR spotted, and get your second big set of search results. For search number three, you combine searches number one and two.

The disadvantage of this type of searching is that it does not allow you to see your whole search on one screen, and it requires a multi-step process. The advantage is that you have a lot more control over what you are doing. For example, you could try running search number four for Siamese OR Bengalese OR spotted OR striped OR black. If the search results are more encouraging than the results for search number two, you can then combine searches number one and four. You will know that the addition of "OR striped OR black" is having a positive effect on your search.

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