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Refining Search Results

Video: Refining Search Results

Too Few Search Results?

Try these tips to expand your results:

  • Change the terms you use in your search. Sometimes by using a synonymous word, you'll get a very different results list.
  • Use fewer search terms. Start with a small number of keywords, then add more terms or try different terms based on your results.
  • Remove limiters. Limiters (such as date, format, or full text) give you a more targeted results list but sometimes limit your results too much. If this happens, use only those limiters that are necessary.
  • Try searching in a database that specializes in a certain subject. Filter the Thrift Library A-Z Database list by subject and select a subject-specific database. Be flexible and be prepared to try several different databases. You might have to re-search to do your research!
  • Think more broadly about your topic. For example, if you're researching the impact of Basque terrorism on a specific town in Spain, you might broaden your search to look at Basque terrorism more generally. Or you might do separate searches for different aspects of your topic.

Too Few Search Results?

Try these tips!

  • Change the terms you use in your search. Brainstorm about more specific terms. Make sure you are not using OR between terms that mean different things, for example women OR salary
  • Start with a small number of keywords. Then add more terms or try different terms based on your results.
  • Add limiters (such as date, format, language).
  • Make sure you are NOT searching the full text. Some databases (such as JSTOR) default to searching the full text content. Change that to not include the full text.
  • Search by a specific field like "title" or "subject." Most databases will default to searching by keyword. For more refined results limit a search term to a specific search field.
  • Search on a more focused aspect of your topic. For example, try searching for "avulsion fracture" instead of "ankle sprain."


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