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Searching Information: Limiting or broadening the search

The information search process: Limiting and broadening the search

Limiting and broadening the search

If your search generates too few results or no results at all:

  • Did you spell your search terms correctly?
  • Check your search terms: are they too many or too precise? Consider synonyms and broader terms, if you want to broaden your search.
  • Are you writing your search terms in the language of the database? A large part of the texts in international databases is written in English, which means that you should write your search terms in English as well.
  • Check your technique: Are you combining your search terms too narrowly using AND or NOT? Would it help to truncate your search terms?
  • Are you using the right information source for your search? Try extending your search to other information sources.

If your search generates too many results:

  • Many databases will give you the option to limit your results by language, country, time etc. When searching international article databases, limit by full text (searches only for articles available in full text) and peer reviewed/scholarly journals (limits the search to scientic journals which are peer-reviewed).
  • Use the search fields to make your search more precise by using headings, abstracts, and subject terms
  • Check your search terms: Are they too broad and general? Use more narrow and more precise terms to narrow your search.
  • Check your technique: Have you used the correct operators to combine your search terms? AND narrows the search more than OR. Have you put the truncation symbol in the right spot?
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