• Keep your initial search simple—single words or short phrases. In database, set the limit for “Full Text” right away, but save other limits (such as date ranges, peer-reviewed, etc.) until you see the results list.
• Look for common database tools (suggested subject headings, abstracts, citation help, emailing and save options) on the edges of the page, often in a color bar above the search boxes or in a separate frame on the right or left of your results list.
Truncation allows you to search variables of a word by typing part of the word plus an asterisk *
ADOPT finds just adopt, but ADOPT* finds adopted, adopting, adoptions, etc.
WOMAN finds just woman, but WOM*N finds woman and women.
Enclose your words in quotation marks to create a phrase search.
CHILDREN OF MEN finds titles with any combination of those common words.
"CHILDREN OF MEN" finds the book and movie with that exact title.
Look for proximity search options.
Many CFCC databases offer proximity searching by typing multiple search terms within a single search box (with no quotation marks).
Google also uses a variation of proximity searching, giving more relevance to words typed in a single search box if they appear near each other in the results.
Use the right Boolean operator.
• Use the right Boolean operator--usually AND--to link two search terms. Using OR often results in a large number of unrelated (and less useful) results. Using AND assures that both of your search terms will appear in the same document.
Want more information about Boolean searching?