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Human Development: Search Strategies

Developing a Search Strategy

After you've picked a database, you will need to develop a search strategy for finding relevant articles. While some databases may look different, they typically have similar search features. Depending on the database you choose, you should be able to apply several of the strategies listed below.

Search Strategies

  Boolean Operators   

Truncation is a search technique that broadens your search to include various word endings.

To truncate your search terms, replace the word ending with an asterik *.

infographic that shows the truncated politic* will return results for politics, politician, and political

 

How using limits can narrow a search:

  • Applying limits will filter out results that don’t meet your search requirements.
  • This will save you time because you won’t need to look through pages of search results that don’t include the information that you need.
  • Each database offers different limits. Be sure to check them out to see how they can help you with your search.

For example: In the database, Historical Abstracts, you can filter your search results for peer review, publication date, document type, language, subject, etc.

 

The image below illustrates how applying limits will help you narrow your search results.

nested circles that show how applying limits will reduce the number of results. The largest circle shows 8,747 results of a search on the Enlightenment. A smaller circle within that shows 256 results for a search on the Enlightenment and the Catholic Church. The smallest inner circle shows that search limited to peer reviewed articles, with 230 results

 

Databases use subject headings to organize their articles.

  • When you know the right subject headings for your topic, you can search more efficiently.
  • Starting out on a new topic, you won't know the subject terminology. A simple way to find them is to start with a keyword search. When you find an article title that meets your needs, look for the subject headings assigned to that article.

In most cases, those subject headings are hyperlinked and will take you to a list of articles with the same subject heading.

screenshot of an article page with an arrow pointing to the Subject Terms. You'll find a list of subject headings or subject terms in each record. The subject headings, or subject terms, are hyperlinked and will send you to a list of records with that subject heading

screenshot of an article's abstract with several keywords highlighted. The abstract is a brief summary of the article that can help you determine is you want to read the full text. Use the abstract to help modify your search by skimming it for additional keywords

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