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SDEV 0111: Transition to College Success: Garza: RRC: Search Techniques

Research Assignment

Keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that best describe the information you need for your topic. They are the most essential parts of the question! 

Pick the most basic words that define your topic and will have an impact on your results.

Example:

How can I use learning strategies to be successful in college?

learning strategies AND college AND success

Additional Techniques

Try the following techniques to specify your results even more!

Phrase Searches

If your chosen key term is one or more words, use quotation marks before the first word and after the last word.  This will tell the system to search the key term as a phrase.

"learning strategies"

This will ensure that your results include only those articles in which the words are adjacent to each other and eliminates any instances of the words appearing in different sections of the article, thus not relating to your topic.  

Truncation

Shortening a keyword to its basic root and adding a special character (usually an asterisk, "*") at the end will tell the computer to search for all variations of the word.

Searching for learn* will find:

learn, learns, learned, learning, etc.

*Not all systems allow for this.  Check the help screens to see if this can be done. This function is most commonly available in subscription databases.

Nested Searches

Nested searches tell the system what operation to complete first. Usually the system will read your search from left to right.  When you use a nested search, everything inside the parentheses is searched first.

"learning strategies" AND (success OR triumphAND college

With nested searches, you can combine different search techniques in one search. 

Boolean Operators

There are three Boolean Operators, ANDOR, and NOT.  Using these between your search terms, tells the system more specifically what information you are looking for.

Using AND lets the system know that you want to retrieve only results with all of the terms included.  

AND

 

The point at which all terms overlap is shaded in.  This is your results area.  Your results with this search should only return articles which include ALL of the terms, learning strategies, college, and success.  

 

Using OR allows you to search for synonymous terms.  It tells the database or search engine that you would be happy with articles including one or both of the terms.
                                                 

OR

 

Notice that the entire diagram is shaded.  Your results should include articles with either terms, success or triumph, or both.

 

Using NOT eliminates terms from your search.  

NOT

Notice that the shaded area is only covering the term, college.  This search should eliminate articles including the term, university.


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