Remember to think about alternate search terms.
Identify Subject Terms for your database and search by that field.
Use "quotations" to search a multiple word phrase
Use wildcard '*' for truncation
Know what you’re looking for:
• What specific question are you trying to answer?
• What would a really excellent article about your topic look like?
Identify the best sources for the kind of information you need:
• Do you need journal articles, newspapers, or other kinds of documents? Do you need peer-reviewed articles?
• Which database is best for this subject and type of information?
Limit your search in ways appropriate to your needs
• Limit your search to peer-reviewed articles, if required by your instructor
• DON'T limit to full-text within any particular database, since the SFX feature will often find the full-text elsewhere.
Find the right vocabulary for your topic:
• Use the tools the database provides to find the right vocabulary for your topic. These might include:
- 'narrowing' suggestions or ‘suggested topics’
- lists of authorized ‘subject terms’ or topics (sometimes called a thesaurus)
• Go to the ‘complete’ record of a promising article to see what subject terms have been assigned to it.
Combine search terms to narrow and focus your results (see example in left column):
• Use AND to narrow your search to a particular aspect of a subject
• Use OR to broaden your search to include synonyms
• Combine a set of different searches to narrow your search (some databases have good ‘search history’ capabilities to make this possible)
Search in the database fields that will give you the most targeted results
• Default search – a ‘keyword’ search. Depending on the database, it might search the fulltext of articles, or just the abstract and title fields. It's the best beginning, but often gives many irrelevant results.
• Subject field - searches only the ‘authorized’ subject terms assigned by indexers. USE THIS FIELD ONLY ONCE YOU KNOW THE CORRECT SUBJECT TERMS
• Title field - searches only the title of articles. This can be a very effective way of limiting to relevant articles, especially when vocabulary in the field is changing
Currency : the timeliness of the information
Relevance : the uniqueness of the content and its importance for your needs.
Authority : the source of the information
Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information
Purpose : the presence of bias or prejudice
Source - Meriam Library at California State University, Chico: http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf