Keep your search simple
- Search the most obvious, broad term first; see what you get. You can narrow your results from there.
- Don't complicate your search. 1-2 terms may suffice.
- If you need to retrieve more information, then expand the number of terms you use (see next step).
Search on key concepts (using synonyms if necessary) one at a time
- Define your topic into 1-3 key concepts and search each separately.
- Example: Effect of forest fires on animals. Chart terms relating to each concept:
| Concept 1
|blaze, blazes, blazing
Use AND, OR, NOT accurately:
- OR combines related terms of one concept, (FIRE* OR BLAZ* OR BURN*) - any one of those terms can be present in the result set
- AND combines different concepts together - both conditions must exist in your result set
- Search using wildcards:
|Search Concept 1
||FIRE* OR BLAZ* OR BURN*
|Search Concept 2
||FAUNA OR MAMMAL* OR BIRD*
|Combine both concepts
||#1 AND # 2
- Results in Set #3 are articles relating to BOTH the concepts of fire AND animals
» "Drought, fires, and large mammals"
Build your sets of concepts, then combine them as needed
- You may choose to search additional terms or concepts to refine your results
- Use NOT to eliminate an aspect of no interest
|Search a third concept
||grassland* or prairie*
|Omit 3rd concept from previous results
||#3 NOT #4
- Your results will encompass the idea of fire AND animals, but NOT involving grasslands
The SEARCH HISTORY command shows your previous searches. You can return to them, or combine them in different combinations as you refine your search.
Don't waste time getting nowhere. After 10-15 min., ask an SRS librarian for help!