Too many search results?
Too Many Search Results?
- Adding additional concepts using the term AND.
- Using Subject or Title fields to make sure the results are relevant.
- But make sure not to exclude relevant results by using terms that must show up where you are searching.
Craft your search terms carefully
The best way to find relevant results is to use terms that appear the most frequently or prominently (think title) in the document you want. Think about the language subject matter experts would use and use those terms. If you are not sure what terms you should use, try googling the subject and putting terms you find in the library databases.
Combine concepts using AND
If you are searching in a library database and your search has too many results it is probably because your search terms are too broad. One way to fix this is by adding additional concepts using the term AND. (Sometimes you have to capitalize the term AND sometimes you don’t depending on the database. So just always capitalize it just in case.) A search for video games AND dyslexia will return less results and more relevant ones than a search for video games alone. Each time you add an additional term using the term AND you will get fewer results.
We returned a list of 1,634,574 results! Way too many!
So try this...
You can do this multiple times:
- Change the terms you use in your search. Brainstorm about more specific terms. Make sure you are not using OR between terms that mean different things, for example women OR salary.
- Start with a small number of keywords. Then add more terms or try different terms based on your results.
- Add limiters (such as date and format).
- Search by a field like "Title" or, Subject, or Abstract. Most databases by default search by keyword. For more refined results limit a search term to a more narrow search field.
- Search on a more focused aspect of your topic. For example, if you're looking at gay soldiers in the U.S. military, you might examine changing attitudes towards sexuality, military culture, or arguments against or for gay soldiers in combat units.
Too few search results?
Too Few Search Results?
- Change the terms you use in your search.
- Use synonyms to enhance your search. Make sure you put brackets around your OR terms.
Rather try this:
- Use fewer search terms. Start with a small number of keywords, and then add more terms or try different terms based on your results.
- Remove limiters. Limiters (such as date and format) give you a more targeted results list, but sometimes limit your results too much. If this happens, use only those limiters that are necessary.
- Search by a field like "Title" or, Subject, or Abstract. Most databases by default search by keyword. For more refined results limit a search term to a more narrow search field. Try searching in a database that specializes in a certain subject. If you need a subject-specific database, try the Library Guides.
- Since many topics are interdisciplinary in nature, be flexible and be prepared to try several different databases from several subject areas. Databases by Subject.
- Think more broadly about your topic. For example, if you're researching the impact of Basque terrorism on a specific town in Spain, you might broaden your search to look at Basque terrorism more generally. Or you might do separate searches for different aspects of your topic.