These strategies can be applied to most research databases, as many have similar interfaces and features. However, you may need to adapt your search somewhat depending on the database you are using.
Revising the search
Sometimes searches retrieve too many results, making it difficult to pick out the relevant articles. If you have retrieved too many articles, try narrowing your search with fields and limiters. (You can broaden your search by removing limiters).
If you find a particularly relevant article, take a look at the subjects that have been assigned to it. They may give you ideas for revising your search terms.
One way to narrow your search is to use specific fields.
Common database fields include:
- Article title
- Abstract (the summary of the article)
- Publication title (sometimes called "Journal Title" or "Source")
You could search for articles written by a specific person (for example: Feynman Richard) or within a specific publication (for example: Physics Today).
Search within a specific field:
In the example to the right, only articles with television in the article title will be retrieved.
This narrowing method helps to eliminate articles that mention "television," but do not focus on it.
Using the "article title" field:
Example of a retrieved article:
Different database have different options for limiting the search. Here are three common limiters:
Date: Limit your search to a specific date range. For example, if you want more current articles, you might limit your search to articles published after 2005.
Scholarly/Peer Reviewed: Journals in which all articles are reviewed by experts in the field before publication to ensure that the research is high quality. [More on peer review]
Full Text: Selecting this limiter will ensure that all of your results link directly to the full text of the article. However, be careful when using this limiter. You will miss out on articles whose full text is available through other Ontario Tech databases. For more information, go to: 4. Find Full Text.
While "keywords" generally refer to any words associated with an article, "subjects" are carefully chosen. Because one author may use the term "advertising," another "marketing," and so on, subjects are an attempt to find a common term that can describe similar articles.
If you find a relevant article, check the assigned subjects. You may find useful terms that you had not previously thought to include in your search.
A search can be broadened by adding new terms with OR:
It could also be narrowed by replacing a general term with a more specific term: