Skip to main content

BIO 191: General Biology I

Funny Video on How to Effectively Search

Great video from University of Sydney Library

Steps for a Successful Search

Steps for a Successful Search

 

1. Choose a topic. Brainstorm 2-3 concepts within that topic or that relate. 

For example, your topic is COVID-19. Let's say that you also want to focus on whether masks are effective preventive measure.

Your concepts are COVID-19, masks

 

2. Think of any and all words that could describe each of those key concepts (synonyms, related words, other forms of the word, etc.).         This is a hard part of process and you usually end up gathering more word variants as you search.

For example:

COVID-19: Coronavirus Disease 2019, Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, virus SARS-CoV-2

Masks: Face coverings, cloth face coverings, PPE, facemasks

 

 

3. Connect those words with AND / OR / NOT. Use parenthesis to group terms just like you would in math, so the database will search for the terms in parentheses first, and THEN search for everything else

(Coronavirus Disease 2019) AND (face coverings)

(Novel Coronavirus COVID-19) AND (facemasks)

 

Effective Search Techniques

Use AND, OR, NOT to help you search more effectively.

Each of those three words serve a different purpose.

 

AND—Use between terms when both terms must be included in the articles.

  • Searching cats AND dogs will only find articles that include both of the terms; it will not find articles that only use the word cats, and it will not find articles that only use the word dogs.

 

OR—Use between synonyms or when you do not care which of the search terms the database finds.

  • Searching cats OR dogs will find articles that only contain the term cats, articles that only contain the word dogs, and articles that contain both the terms cats and dogs.

 

NOT —Tells the search engine to only return results without this word.

  • Searching cats not dogs will find articles that include the term cats but do not include the term dogs.

 

The Asterisk Symbol ( * )—Use the asterisk when you want to find articles that include all possible endings of a word.

  • Searching computwill find articles that include the words computer, computers, computation, computing, etc.

 

Quotes ( " )—Use quotes when you want only want the entire term in that particular order, or when you want to search for a phrase.

  • Searching"heart attack" will find articles that include the phrase heart attack, but it will not find articles that only use the word heart or attack. Depending on the database, it may or may not find the phrase heart attacks, so a better search might use the asterisk symbol, such as "heart attack.*" Another search that would find articles that include both heart attack and heart attacks would be to search for "heart attack" OR "heart attacks."