Searching Databases

Searching Databases


Hi, I’m Bud, and I’m going to tell you how easy it is to search for articles
in a database. A database searches thousands of articles
and books; you can also find images, charts, and primary sources.
Some cover a range of subjects; others focus on specific subjects. When you’re choosing a database
from the Library’s website, each will have a short description
of what it’s about. You’ll want to choose one that will be
a good match for your topic. My health class assignment is to write
on a topic of my choice using articles from the library databases. I need to find
5 articles, 3 of which need to be peer-reviewed from the last 5 years. For my topic, I’ve chosen “What are the advantages of using duct tape
for the removal of warts?” So I’m going to start
with a search for “warts”. Because I got so many results
just with the word ‘warts’; I’m going to add some more terms
to narrow down my results. You’re probably not going to get
perfect results the first time. So try different combinations
of your search terms. As you search, you’ll encounter
other words and phrases. They might be suggested by the database. You’ll also find them
in abstracts and in the text of articles. Don’t be afraid to incorporate them
into your searches. Adding quotations around phrases
tells the database to search for a phrase of words. You can also narrow or broaden
your search topic. If I only wanted to search
for the home treatment of warts instead of the broader category
of medical treatment, I might include
the phrase ‘home remedy’. The most effective way to improve
your search results is to do an Advanced Search. This gives you more search boxes
to combine terms and tools to control the search results. When you need to search
for different spellings of a word, use truncation and wildcards. To truncate, type the first part
of the word followed by an asterisk. Some databases will use a different symbol. So r-e-m-e-d-asterisk will search
for remedy, remedies, remedial,
and remediation. To search with a wildcard, insert
a question mark to replace one or more letters in a word. W-o-m-question mark-n
will search for both woman and women. You can also use the Boolean operators
and, or, and not in between words to search more precisely for what you want. AND combines terms so that
each search result contains all of your terms. For example, searching for home remedy AND
medical treatment will narrow your results because each result will contain
home remedy and medical treatment. OR will look for any of your terms,
so that each search result contains at least one of your terms. Searching for home remedy
OR medical treatment will find results that have either
of these phrases. This will increase your results. NOT will look for the first search terms,
but exclude results that contain any terms after the not operator. Searching for home remedy
NOT medical treatment will show results that contain
home remedy, but not if they
also have the phrase medical treatment. Advanced Search also lets you limit
what the database searches so your results match what you need. The most common ones are:
find only full text articles, limit to a specific date range,
and include types of articles like scholarly or peer-reviewed. Some will even let you search
by type of document like primary sources, case studies, or images. Each database has different ways for you
to limit your results. Now that I’ve showed you some ways
of searching databases, I’m going to create a search for my assignment. In the Advanced Search, my first terms are
warts and duct tape. I’ll use AND on the second line
with home remed asterisk,
then the NOT operator with medical treatment on the third line. I will include only full text articles
from scholarly and peer-reviewed publications from the last five years. When I find an article I want to use,
there’s usually a cite button that will give me a formatted citation that
I can copy and paste into my paper. Some databases provide different
citation styles like MLA, APA, etc. Some do a better job of citing sources
than others. So always double-check the format
against a reliable source. Now that you know how to search databases,
you can experiment with keywords, use advanced searching to find
the right articles for your assignment, and use the cite feature. You’ll spend less time searching
and find better results for your paper.

Danny Hutson

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