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ENG 220 - Information Research  

Introduction to Drama
Last Updated: Nov 1, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Databases Print Page

Basic Steps to Searching Online Databases


1)     Select the best database:    Database Descriptions


2)     Determine your search terms (a.k.a. subjects, descriptors, keywords, indexing terms), avoiding unnecessary words:

  • Select significant words that are likely to appear in your document. Avoid unnecessary words.
  • Write one or more sentences about your topic and then underline the important words.
  • Example: What kind of treatment is used for children who have asthma or bronchitis?






3)     Consider including relevant synonyms or related words in your search:

            asthma             bronchitis          respiratory diseases


4)     Determine any connectors (a.k.a. logical operators, search operators, boolean terms):

            treatment and  children  

                 results will contain:        all documents containing the words treatment and children


treatment or children

     results will contain:        all documents containing treatment or children or both terms


treatment and children and (asthma or bronchitis or respiratory disease*)

     results will contain:  treatment and children and either: asthma or bronchitis or

respiratory disease or respiratory diseases


5)     CInclude special characters (a.k.a. truncation, wild cards), if appropriate:

treatment and child* and (asthma or bronchitis)

            disease* à    disease, diseases

            Some databases use a + or ! instead of a *. Consult their help screens.


6)     Determine your limiters:

  • Search for your term in the full text of articles or just their citations and abstracts?
  • Search a particular publication? All publications? Only newspapers?
  • Search all dates or just a particular date, or a range of dates?


7)     Conduct your search: 

The database will find all documents (either full-text or just abstracts & citations) in its collection that match the criteria you set.


8)     View your results (a.k.a. citation list, browse screen, document list).     


9)     Evaluate your results:

  • Is the document relevant to your topic? Long enough?  Adequately complex?
  • Is it up-to-date, considering the topic? Information to treat a disease should be recent. A recent publication date might not be important for a report about the Revolutionary War.
  • Is it the correct type of publication? Should it be more scholarly? A primary (first hand account)?
  • Should the point-of-view be balanced or do you need someone’s opinion?
  • What do you know about the author’s credentials? Can you trust the information to be accurate?
  • Should the terms be revised and the search rerun? Can you substitute a synonym or related term? 

  10)     Print, save, or email your selections.

 lccc library,b.balas,03-24-08


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