Normally the search engines search for a given search term as extensively as possible. They browse the text mass and the results consists of every match where the word appears. This often leads to the result group growing very large. On the other hand, the search accuracy suffers because in most found documents the word might not be in a particularly essential role.
To achieve a precise search, it's useful to search for a search term in a restricted part of the record, or field. Suitable parts are, for example, title, abstract and keywords/subject/topic.
If you are searching for the work of a particular person, use the author's name as your search term, and you can target the search to the author-field.
The field that you are searching in, is usually selected from the drop-down menu next to the search box.
It is worthwhile to remain systematic in searching for information. One way is to record your searches e.g. into a search diary (download template below). At its most simple, a search diary includes:
Picture: Essi Kannelkoski, TAMK
In most of the databases you will find a Basic search, that is a simple search box. Advanced search is a more targeted and precise way of searching.
You may also browse the resources. In most of the databases, you will find this function in browse or publications. There you will find an overview of what the database contains.
Limiting is important. You may limit your search before or after your search.
Limiting searches can be found in limitations tai filters. Editing your search can often be found in refine search tai edit search.
Search engines only search for character strings input by the user that can be words, abbreviations or something else. You may make your searches more effective with a few useful tools.
Databases may be unable to search for different word inflection forms without a little help. This is done by using a truncation character truncation character or wild card. The truncation character varies depending on the database. In the example below the truncation term is *.
In some databases there is automation, and the system looks for multiple variants or inflected forms of the same word. For example, Andor search service finds English terms in inflected forms, but the Finnish words need to be truncated by the user. In the Finnish Finna service, English terms should be truncated, but Finnish terms there is automatic stemming. It is advisable to try your searches both with and without truncation.
If searching with a concept or a phrase that includes two or more words, the phrase is written inside quotation marks. In this case the words must be in the given order and exactly in the written form. Words inside quotation marks can also be truncated in some databases, but not all.
Search groups can be combined using Boolean operators, which are AND, OR and NOT.
You can combine many of the previously mentioned methods when retrieving information. In that case the search is constructed similar to a mathematical equation
N.b. With the words combined with OR-operator, you need brackets. With them, you tell the search system that the OR operation is done first and the search group is combined with the other parts of the search. Alternatiively, you may use the advanced search and group your search terms in search boxes.
In some international databases you may use the proximity operator. With that, you make sure that your combined search terms appear in an limited distance from each other.
In some databases (most databases in Ebsco and Proquest) there are thesauruses or subject terms that are database-specific and ofthen discipline-specific. Keyword or terms can be added to searches by targeting your terms to keywords (eg. in subject-field in Ebscohost). In some databases this also includes keywords provided by the author (author-supplied keywords). In some databases the search is directed via the databases' terminology system, eg. some medical databases.
nurses AND ergonomy
work well being OR satisfaction at work
nurses NOT emergency care nurses
Did you get too many results? You can specify your search with the following means:
Not enough results? Try the following:
Didn't get relevant references?