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Database Searching Tips: Home

This guide teaches you common search strategies that can be utilized within various databases to help you narrow down searches and find the most relevant resources.

Why do I need to use Search Strategies?

  • Without learning to control your search results, you may find yourself frustrated with searching databases. However, most searching strategies are easy to learn and will make a big difference in your results.
  • The key to becoming a savvy online searcher is to use common search techniques that you can apply to almost any database, including article databases, online catalogs and even commercial search engines.
  • This is important because searching library databases is a bit different from searching Google.
  • The techniques described in this guide will enable you to quickly retrieve relevant information from the thousands of records in a database.
  • When you search a database and do not get the results you expect, Contact Us for advice. Library staff are happy to help you find what you need.

Overview of Search Strategies

Keywords: This is the most basic method of searching. If you only use this method, you are not likely to locate the best resources.

Subjects: Describe the main topics each item in the database covers. If you can find the best subject heading, you can do comprehensive searches on a subject.

Exact Phrases: When you need to look for exact phrases (such as "limited atonement" or "attributes of God") this can be very helpful.

Truncation: Use this method when you need to find multiple forms of a specific root word. (Ex: Christian, Christianity, Christians)

Boolean Searches: Expand your search to look for various synonyms of the same term all at once using the OR operator; or use the NOT Boolean operator to eliminate resources containing a particular word.

Search Fields: Control the specific fields of records you are searching (title, author, subject, publication, etc.) to improve the relevancy of your search results and narrow down to the best resources.

Proximity Searches: If you need to keep your key terms in close proximity to each other within the record instead of allowing the terms to appear just anywhere, use proximity searching.

Get Help

  • In-person: If you are on campus, or can come to campus, feel free to ask for help at the library service desk.   
  • E-mail : Submit a question, and a librarian will get back to you as soon as possible.
  • By Phone: You can give us a call at (770) 484-1204 (ext.5756).