1. Advanced Search Screen
Many library databases will open to a default "Basic Search" screen. Consider using the "Advanced Search" screen to conduct more accurate searches.
2. Field-specific Searching
Sometimes you really want certain words to show up in certain fields (for example, the title or subject or company name field). Searching a specific field will return fewer records, but they are more likely to be relevant. Use the drop-down menus near each search box to specify a specific field.
3. Keywords (rather than natural language sentences)
Include multiple concept keywords in your search when appropriate, particularly when narrowing your initial results.
In the first Advanced Screen search box, enter your first concept. Example: “corporate responsibility”
In the second search box, enter your second concept. Example: Koch
To search for a phrase, type quotation marks around the phrase. Example: “business structure” “hawaiian airlines”
Why? If you do not enclose the phrase with quotation marks, a database will often find items that contain the individual words in the phrase, regardless of whether these words are located next to each other in the order specified.
5. Boolean Operators
Use Boolean operators -- AND, OR, NOT -- to improve search results.
For example: (telecommut* OR "work at home") AND (productivity OR output OR "time management")
6. Wildcard Characters and Truncation
Wildcard characters allow you to search for different forms of a word.
Enter a wildcard symbol (usually a question mark) to perform a single character wildcard search. For example, type wom?n to search for records that contain the strings woman, women, and so forth.
Enter a truncation wildcard symbol (often an asterisk) to perform a multiple character wildcard search. For example, type cultur* to search for records that contain strings such as culture, cultural, and culturally.
Note: The most common truncation symbol is the asterisk, but databases vary. Check the Help section in each database to find the correct truncation symbol. Examples: bank* bank! bank?
Truncation and Proximity for Example Databases
|Database||Truncation / Wildcard||Proximity|
|ABI/INFORM||* / ?||NEAR/n PRE/n|
|Business Source Complete||* / ?||Nn Wn|
|Nexis Uni||* / ?||w/n p/n|
|OneSearch||* / ?|
|Hawaii Voyager||? / %|
In Google or Bing, use the site type command to limit to commercial sites (.com) or U.S. governmental sites (.gov) or organization/association sites (.org).
Example for the firearms industry: site:.org guns “industry news”
To search within a specific site, include URL host name.
Example for shootingindustry.com: site:shootingindustry.com “social responsibility”