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DIY How To

Refine Your Search

When You Have Too Many Search Results...

  • Use more search terms - Start with a small number of keywords, then add more specific keywords;
  • Use limiters - Limiters such as date and resource type retrieve  targeted results;
  • Do not use the Boolean operator OR - This search tool retrieves result sets for both words, thus expanding the final result set;
  • Narrow your topic - Think about a more focused aspect of your topic. For example, if you are researching plastics in oceans, choose a specific ocean and focus on nanoplastics.



When You Do Not Have Enough Search Results...

  • Try a database on your topic - Search in a database that specializes in a certain subject. For subject-specific database suggestions, try the Subject Guides.
  • Broaden your topic - You may need to think more broadly about your topic. For example, if you are researching the impact of hybrid cars and CO2 emissions, you might broaden your search to hybrid cars and air pollution;
  • Change your keywords - Replace your keywords with similar or related terms. Discover new keywords by reading background information on your topic in scholarly subject encyclopedias;
  • Use fewer keywords - Each time you add another search term, you retrieve fewer results;
  • Use fewer limiters - Use limiters sparingly. Focus on the resource type, books, scholarly articles, news, and the date range for best results.