Answered By: Sarah Morehouse
Last Updated: May 01, 2015     Views: 32

If you watch advertisements for Siri, you see people talking to their iPhone like it was a person. Even Google tries to figure out what you want when you type in an English sentence. But when you search a database, it just matches what you put in the search box to see if the same combination of letters is found somewhere in the indexed content. This is both a strength and a weakness. 

On one hand, it means there's more work for you to do, and there is a learning curve. On the other hand the computer is not trying to guess for you, which allows you to be much more precise. 

1. Come up with all the ways your topic might be described - as many synonyms and related terms as you can think of. Here is some information about how to do that - http://subjectguides.esc.edu/researchskillstutorial/conceptchart. 

2. Learn to combine your search terms with Boolean Operators like AND, OR and NOT. Here is some information about how to do that - http://subjectguides.esc.edu/researchskillstutorial/boolean.

3. Finally, learn how to use common database features to narrow down your search results list to a manageable size and get the most relevant results. Here is some information about how to do that - http://subjectguides.esc.edu/researchskillstutorial/narrowresults.

 

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