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ENGL 401 - First-Year Writing (UNH Durham): 2. Searching Databases

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Searching Tips

Helpful tips for more effective searching:

Information Cycle

Look at how information about a specific event is produced, distributed, and changes over time, resulting in different types of information sources.

Boolean Searching Video (3:03)

Build more effective searches by learning about "Boolean operators" when connecting your search terms.


Keyword & Subject Searching

Keyword Searching

  • word(s) you choose are searched anywhere in the database record describing the article or item
  • flexible but can miss useful items if your terms are not included in relevant records
  • may return many irrelevant results since search terms can appear anywhere in record

Subject searching

  • use word(s) or term(s) designated as subjects or descriptors in that particular database that describe the content of the article
  • a precise way of searching a database and usually retrieves the most relevant results
  • less flexible since you need to know the correct subject terms for that database

To find subjects or descriptors:

  • check these fields in the most relevant records you find through keyword searching
  • look for a subjects list or thesaurus in the database you are using