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SPEA V182 Comparative and International Policy

Instructors: Afoaku, Glaser, Karaagac, Long, Siena

Why Care About Search?

Searching large multidisciplinary/multi-publication databases requires efficient and effective strategies to obtain a set of manageable and useful search results.

Why use Boolean operators?

Most library databases use Boolean operators (ANDOR, and NOT). 

Use them to narrow or broaden search results.

  • AND for records that include both terms (narrows search)
  • OR for records that include either term (broadens search)
  • NOT to exclude irrelevant concepts (narrows search)

Example: Iran AND China AND (energy OR petroleum OR oil) 

Adapted from SAIS Library, Johns Hopkins Univ. "Database Search Tips" Guide (no longer extant).

Boolean Operators

Use AND, OR, and NOT to narrow or broaden search results.

Using AND

  • narrows results
  • ALL terms must be in each search result

Note: in most, but not all, databases, the AND is implied. For example, Google automatically puts an AND in between search terms.

Example:  renewable energy AND China

Using OR

  • broadens results
  • searches for ANY of the terms in search results
  • connect similar concepts (synonyms)

 

Example:  renewable energy OR solar OR wind

 

Using NOT

  • narrows results
  • exclude words from search

Example:  peacekeeping NOT United Nations

 


Adapted from SAIS Library, Johns Hopkins Univ. "Database Search Tips" Guide (no longer extant).

Database Search Fields

Records in library databases are made of "fields." Fields can help narrow your search.

Examples:

  • author
  • title
  • journal title
  • abstract
  • publisher
  • date/year of publication
  • subject/descriptor
  • all text (searches the full text, if available)

 


Improving Search Results with Fields

  • Most databases automatically search by keyword (looking for the term anywhere in the record).
     
  • Limit the field for a search term to narrow the results. 
     
  • Fields are usually in drop down boxes.
     
  • If the database has a single search box with no drop-down menu, look for an "Advanced Search" option.
     

Adapted from SAIS Library, Johns Hopkins Univ. "Database Search Tips" Guide (no longer extant).

Brainstorming Keywords

Identify effective search terms for database and web resources. (From Portland State University.)

Selecting Number of Keywords (in Databases)