Searching techniques

Searching techniques

All electronic searching tools (whether they are a library catalogue, database or search engine) use a variation of AND / OR / NOT to allow you to combine your keywords. Using these words you can compose a search statement making it easier to find the information you need.

  • Use AND when you have two or more keywords and want to link them together e.g. children AND domestic violence. This computer will retrieve only documents which contain both of these terms - giving you fewer but more precise results.
  • Use OR to broaden your search e.g. domestic violence OR intimate partner violence. The computer will retrieve documents which contain either of these terms - giving you more results.
  • Use NOT if there are words you want to eliminate from your results e.g. children NOT teenagers. The computer will retrieve only documents which contain the word children but not the word teenagers - giving you less but more precise results.

More search techniques

  • Don't be afraid to use the Advanced Search option. This option simply allows you to search by more than one keyword and to refine your search in various ways e.g. by date, material type, language - making it easier to find the information that you want.
  • If you have a phrase e.g. "domestic violence" put it in double quotation marks. This tells the computer to find documents containing this exact phrase and not split the words
  • Using the asterisk symbol * can save you time by telling the computer to search for all variations of a term e.g. femini* will search for documents containing the words feminine, femininity, feminize, feminist, feminism etc.
  • Combine your synonyms using round brackets () and OR e.g. (girls OR females OR women OR gender) 
  • Use the question mark symbol ? if you have words with alternative spellings e.g. behavio?r will find documents containing behaviour and behavior

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