Searching for one keyword can mean your results are too vague and broad.
As soon as you start searching with more than one keyword, it’s a good idea to either switch to Advanced Search options in your library databases or search engine, or to use some boolean operators. By doing this, your search will be more focussed and you will have fewer, but more accurate results to work with.
Remember there is no such thing as the perfect search!
University of Exeter students might like to use their Search Techniques LibGuide
Just try some of these suggestions and see what works for you and your topic.
What is it?
Boolean operators are simple linking words.
These are: AND / OR / NOT
AND Narrows your search
crime AND poverty
Your results are limited to those that contain all your keywords
OR Broadens your search
college OR university
Your results will have either or both of your search terms
NOT Eliminates search terms
cloning NOT sheep
Your results will be narrower because you have eliminated certain words
Truncation & wildcards
Library databases can be fussy about the way you spell words, so if you aren’t sure of spelling you or if you know there are multiple variations of your search term, then use wildcards or truncation to cover all possibilities.
Truncation: expands your search to include different endings of a word
Example: theor* = theorist / theory / theory / theoretical / theorise
Wildcards: allows you to search for different spellings of a word by filling in the blank in the middle
Example: gr?y = grey / gray
It’s a good idea to check the Help options in databases as the type of wild card symbol used can vary!