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FYUR Hunt & Munro

This is a combined course guide for both FYUR HOW DOES TECH AFFECT CULTURE? and FYUR CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Just Google It?

Effective search strategies

"Just Google it!" Is this your approach to a search strategy? Many people start with a few words in the ubiquitous Google search box and then find themselves scrolling through page after page of results - that is, if they even go past the first page!

For students in a college setting it is important to go "beyond Google" and instead create a structured approach - a strategy - for searching in library databases as well as in other resources that have authoritative information.

The following will help you:

  • Use Keywords or Subject Terms to find appropriate information
  • Narrow or Broaden your search in order to obtain the appropriate amount of information for the job.
  • Effectively use database searching techniques, including use of Boolean operators.
  • Successfully locate relevant citations and full-text articles in databases such as Academic Search Complete.

Keywords vs Subject Terms

Subject headings describe the content of each item in a database. Use these headings to find relevant items on the same topic.  Searching by subject headings (a.k.a. descriptors) is the most precise way to search article databases.

It is not easy to guess which subject headings are used in a given database. For example, the phone book's Yellow Pages use subject headings. If you look for "Movie Theatres" you will find nothing, as they are listed under the subject heading "Theatres - Movies."

Keyword searching is how you typically search web search engines.  Think of important words or phrases and type them in to get results.

Here are some key points about each type of search:

 

Keywords
vs.
Subjects
  • natural language words describing your topic - good to start with
 
  • pre-defined "controlled vocabulary" words used to describe the content of each item (book, journal article) in a database
  • more flexible to search by - can combine together in many ways
 
  • less flexible to search by - need to know the exact controlled vocabulary term
  • database looks for keywords anywhere in the record - not necessarily connected together
 
  • database looks for subjects only in the subject heading or descriptor field, where the most relevant words appear
  • may yield too many or too few results
 
  • if too many results - also uses subheadings to focus on one aspect of the broader subject
  • may yield many irrelevant results
 
  • results usually very relevant to the topic

When you search a database and do not get the results you expect, Ask Us for advice.