Search library databases like a pro!

Search library databases like a pro!

hello and welcome to this library and
research skills tutorial this tutorial will show you how to
search the libraries databases like a pro i will show you a few techniques that
you can apply to most database searches these techniques will help you be more
successful an efficient in finding what you need when you need to search for scholarly
articles and helps a lot if you start by
formulating your topic into a research question this will help you stay focused or research question is the question
that you will discuss and provide an answer to in your paper next you’ll need to break down that
question into its key concepts key concepts of the main themes of the
main players if you will involved in your research question this will help you choose the best
keywords to use when searching in a database let’s use this student research question
as an example do violent video games contributed
violent behavior in children and teenagers the key concepts for this topic would be video games violence and teenagers or children even though it may seem like the right
thing to do you wouldn’t include phrases such as the effects of or the influence of in your key concepts or a search terms because these terms are too specific remember you want to start with only the
major themes of your topic to get the best results the next step is to think of synonyms
and or related terms for your key concepts in the thousands of relevant articles
that may be out there they may not all discussed the topic
using the same vocabulary by creating a list of synonyms or
related terms you are also creating a list of keywords
you can use to find the relevant articles in the database in some cases there may not be any
synonymous terms if a concept is only expressed by one commonly used term that would be the case with video games
in this example video games is really the only commonly
used english term we can however think of synonyms for the
other terms violence could also be expressed as aggression for teenagers you could also use the
word adolescents and of course who are also interested in
the effects videogames on children so that term needs to be included as
well the synonyms or related terms are linked
by the operator or this tells the database to retrieve any
documents that employees not only the first term you thought of but documents that use the synonymous
related terms that might also be used to discuss the particular concept each key concept group synonyms and
related terms is linked to the other key concept group or groups by the operator
and organizing your key concepts in this way
prepares you to make the most efficient searching a database now I will explain two techniques that
you can use in most databases to ensure that you’ll be retrieving all
of the relevant documents for your topic the first is called phrasal searching when one of your terms consists more
than one word you want to make sure that the search engine of the database finds your exact term and not each separate word in different
locations for instance in some databases if you
enter video games just as is it may retrieve documents that contain
the word “video” in one place and “games” in another part of the
document my putting double quotes around the term
video games you will on lean retrieve documents
containing the two words next to one another in other words you only retrieved
documents that mentioned video games another useful technique is called
truncation truncation is when you replace the
ending of the root word with a symbol this tells a search engine to retrieve
documents containing all variant forms the root word most often the symbol for truncation
isn’t asterix but you can always check a databases
help piles under truncation to make sure you’re using the correct symbol
symbol for that database here’s an example truncation if we enter
child within asterix the database would retrieve documents
containing child, as is child’s apostrophe s children and childhood another example with adolescent with an
asterix at the end would retrieve adolescent the noun or the adjective adolescence the noun in plural adolescents with an apostrophe s and adolescence with a “ce” ending for this particular search we can use
truncation for other terms as well further word aggression we can make it
so that it also retrieves documents that talk about aggressive behavior as well
as aggression by using truncation your insuring that
you’ll retrieve his many relevant documents as possible regardless of the
language they use to describe the topic first we’re going to look at a database
called Sociological abstracts by CSA now we’re going to enter our key
concepts and their synonyms or related terms into the search boxes This type of thorough search is sure to
provide you with relevant articles Let me point out something about this
database, notice that it is separated the search results by the type of
document it has retrieved as you can see there are different tabs
they’re labeled all publication types journals peer reviewed journals if your assignment requires that you use
scholarly or peer-reviewed documents you should only choose articles from the
result forget peer-reviewed journals tab that means that all of those results are peer-reviewed articles most of the libraries databases provide
the means to limit your results to scholarly or peer-reviewed articles in the next example I’ll show you how to
do this in a different database. If you’re not sure what scholarly or
peer-reviewed means watch the libraries video about peer
review or ask your course instructor or teaching assistant. Let’s briefly look at another research
question in a different database to make sure you understand how to use these
techniques. This student wants to write about what
causes the public to accept or oppose having a wind farm near where they live Here’s his research question he’s broken it down into the following
key concepts wind farms and public acceptance again it’s important to think of the
synonyms or related terms so that you can retrieve all possible relevant
documents this student realizes that wind farms could
also be discussed by the terms wind power wind energy or wind turbines and for a second concept public acceptance could also be discussed under the term
public opposition public perception or public attitudes here’s what our complete search terms
will look like since we’re searching for keywords anywhere in the documents we should use the phrasal searching so
that it finds terms like wind power as one term and not as two separate words In this case will only use truncation
for the term public perception because it could appear in the singular
or the plural form let’s see how we would enter these in
the database that uses the Ebsco search interface We’re going to look at a multi-disciplinary
database called academic search premier So here we go this is what our search
terms will look like in the search boxes of the database noticed that each key
concept and that synonymous terms are in one search box and each synonymous turn is separated by the operator OR and selecting peer-reviewed documents
because those are the kinds of articles I need these kinds of thorough searches are
certain to retrieve relevant documents the techniques I’ve shown you in this
tutorial can be used in most academic databases If you want to learn some other research
skills make sure you look at the list of video tutorials on
the library’s help page if you have any questions about what was
shown in this video where you want to know about other
techniques for searching databases you can always ask a librarian You can talk to a librarian at the
reference desk of the library or via the library’s online chat but you can email us at reference at
brock u dot ca Thanks for listening, and good luck with
your research

Danny Hutson

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