Save yourself time & aggravation by answering the following questions & following the tips & techniques on this page
1. What's my topic?
2. What are my main concepts?
3. What are other terms or synonyms for my topics?
4. What types of sources or materials can I use?
Your searches will work best in most databases if you break your topic apart and then combine the concepts with AND/OR. This is called Boolean logic and is named after a mathematician
AND - narrows your searches
Ex. Obesity AND Sugared drinks
OR - broadens your searches
Ex. sugared drinks OR sweetened beverages OR soft drink*
Most databases will have pull down boxes where you can select AND or OR.
You can also use these together by using parenthesis.
(obesity OR overweight) AND (sugared drinks OR sweetened beverage* OR soft drink* OR juice OR sports drinks)
The above in pictures
OR - gets all the info from both circles
AND - gets only the info where the circles overlap
Many databases "tag" or add terms to the articles -- similar to tagging pictures in Facebook.
The agreed-upon, standard terms used in library catalogs and databases are called subject headings or descriptors.
The subject headings in a catalog or database record will often help you locate more books/articles that are similar. It works much as "find more like this" or "find similar" links do elsewhere.
Truncation - find all words starting with the letters you have typed. Most common truncation symbol is the asterisk *
Ex, obes* = obese, obesity
child* = child, childhood, childlike, children
Wildcard - used to substitute letters inside a word
Ex. wom*n = woman OR women
colo*r = color OR colour
Exact Phrase - use quotation marks around your term to get that exact phrase
Ex. "high fructose corn syrup"
Field Searching - you can search specifically in the title, the abstract (summary), or by author.
Most databases have pull down menus that let you select which field you want to search.