Search Tips for Library Resources
How to Choose the Right Database
- If you are unsure of which databases to use or you want to search multiple databases at the same time, start with Ebsco Discovery Service, which covers multiple topics and finds information from books, electronic books, streaming video, journal articles and more.
- If your topic is a health issue, select the subject group Health/Medical Databases in Ebsco OR select another medical database, such as Ovid Nursing OR Gale/Infotrac Health Reference Center Academic.
- If your topic addresses a social issue, use Gale/Infotrac Opposing Viewpoints, Facts.com Issues and Controversies, OR SIRS
- Use a newspaper database such as Newsbank Access World News to find statistics or the most current updates or local (Wisconsin or Milwaukee) information.
Using the Right Search Terms
- What words describe my topic? eating disorders in children
- Can my topic be divided into smaller topics?
What other words describe my topic?
- Topic 1 – children
- Topic 2 – eating disorders
What do I type in the search box? Sample searches:
- Topic 1 – children or youth or boys or girls or preteens or youngsters
- Topic 2 – anorexia or binging or bulimia or compulsive eating or purging
- child* AND anorexia
- boys AND “eating disorder”
- girls AND bulimia
Limiting & Expanding Searches
Use quotation marks if you want to search an exact phrase.
- “college loans”
- “financial aid” and loans
- “wireless networks”
When searching for 2 or more topics, use the word AND to join the terms together.
- Facebook AND privacy
- ipad AND features
- violence AND television
Truncate words to search for all forms of the word. Most commonly used truncation symbols are: ? OR *
- comput* will retrieve items with the words: compute, computer, computers, computing, and computation.
If your search results are too large, use more specific terms for your topic.
- Instead of sports, use basketball
If your search results are too small, use more general terms for your topic.
- Instead of Porsche, use “sports cars”
Use descriptive search terms such as:
- “herbal medicine”
- “body language”
- “nonverbal communication”
- design AND jewelry
- “identity theft” AND prevention
Do NOT put terms such as: with as into more in the search box. These words have no meaning of their own and can be found in every information source. Nouns make the best search terms.
Retrieves all items with the word dogs plus all items with the word cats
dogs OR cats
Retrieves only items that have both words (dogs and cats)
dogs AND cats
Retrieves all items with the word dogs, but without the word cats
dogs NOT cats