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ENG W170 Introduction to Argumentative Writing

Find resources for W170 Essay 3

Too Many Results?

1. Add additional keywords.

  • TIP: In databases Subject Terms can help you identify more narrow topics and keywords.

2. Choose more narrow search terms.

   Example:

  • Broader term: law
  • Narrower term: "environmental law"

3. Use limiters. (e.g., search fields like title or abstract, publication date, format type).

   In OneSearch see options under Refine Search.

4. Search for a short phrase with quotation marks. 

   Examples: 

  • "environmental law"
  • "environmental justice"

Too Few Results?

Don't give up! Reassess your search strategy.

Possible Reasons:

1. Choice of Search terms
Choosing the right search terms is key.

  • Experiment with related terms.
  • In databases Subject Terms can help you identify keywords.
  • Use OR to search for multiple related terms simultaneously. (e.g., policy OR law)

2. Too Many Search Terms
Database can be picky about search terms. Be selective.

  • Begin with one of two search terms that best represent your topic. Then add other terms as needed.
  • Avoid long phrases and empty words like “the” and “how.”

3. Too Many Limiters
If you limited the search (e.g., by date or search field) remove limiters and reassess.

4. Narrow Topic
Highly specific topics may be too narrow for finding results. Try a broader related topic first. 

Example: 

  • Narrow search: Bloomington Indiana AND environmental policy
     
  • Broader search: United States AND state government AND environmental policy

5. Database Choice
Different databases focus on different topics. View Resources by Subject or Ask a Librarian.