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How to Search the Library

Use this guide to learn how to find books and articles on the library website.

Troubleshooting Searches

Troubleshooting Your Searches

Sometimes your database search comes back with WAY too many articles on your topic and sometimes it comes back with not enough.

Not Enough Articles in Your Results

If your search is not finding enough articles on your topic, generally one of two things will help:

  1. Change the keywords you are using - OR -
  2. Change the database you are searching

Changing Your Keywords

Library databases are matching tools.  They match the words you type in to the same words appearing in an article.  You may need better keywords.

CheckmarkTry changing one of your keywords to a synonym or related word  (example: instead of kids, try children).  You will likely find different articles in your results list.

CheckmarkIf you are using more than 3 keywords in your search and not finding many articles on your topic - try REMOVING a keyword from your search.  This will find more articles because the database doesn't have to match so many words.  


Changing the Database

Each database contains a unique collection of journals, so every database you try will give you different results. It could be the database you are using is just not a great one for your topic. 

CheckmarkPick a new database from the databases list and see if your results improve.  If you are using a subject-specific database (a database specific to health, business, etc.), try searching an all-purpose/multi-disciplinary database instead.


Too Many Articles in Your Results
If your results lists are way too big (several hundreds or thousands of articles), try one of these strategies:
  1. Add another keyword (using AND)   -OR -
  2. Use the limits on the side of your results to focus your results  -OR-
  3. Use the Field drop-down menus in the Advanced Search

​​Add Another Keyword (Using AND)

It's possible the keywords you are using are too broad or are not very descriptive of your topic. 

CheckmarkTry adding an additional keyword with AND to your search string.  For example:

Troublesome search string:

Parents  AND  limit  AND  screen

Revised search string with added keyword:

Parents  AND  limit  AND  screen  AND children


Use the Limits on the side of your Search Results

For more information on how to apply limits to focus or narrow your search, please see the Focusing Your Search Results tab of this guide.


Use the Field drop-down menus in the Advanced Search

For more information on how to use the Field drop-down menus to narrow your search, please see the Searching for Articles: Advanced Search using Field drop-down menus box of this guide.