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Effective Searching: Part 3 - Narrow your search (Generic Web)

  1. 1. Effective Searching 3: Narrow your search
  2. 2. 1. Effective searching overview: key concepts 2. Broadening your Search - synonyms, wildcards, truncation tools 3. Narrowing your search - proximity connectors, phrase searching, exclusions 4. Constructing your search - grouping, search history, evaluating your search 5. Citation Searching Presentations summary
  3. 3. Effective Searching 3: Narrow your search This short slide deck will provide an overview of what you should consider when constructing your search, to try and focus your search on the most relevant results. It forms part 3 of a series covering some of the tools available to you to construct an effective search. Part 1 & 2 covered key concepts and broadening your search using OR, wildcards and truncation tools.
  4. 4. Effective Searching Define your information need • What types of resource do you need? • Identify where to search. • Identify your key concepts. Broaden your search • Be compre- hensive. • Ensure nothing is missed un- necessarily. • “Cast your nets wide.” Narrow your search • Be focused. • Exclude any ‘noise’. • Ensure you can use your reading time most efficiently. • “Use the right nets.” Evaluate your results • Identify gaps. • Assess un- expected results. • Review search terms with new knowl- edge. Make your results work for you • Be efficient with your time. • Search alerts. • Citation searching.
  5. 5. Effective Searching 3: Narrow your search We will cover: (1) Focussing your search a) Combining search concepts (proximity connectors) b) Phrase searching (2) Filtering your search a) Excluding results (NOT connector) b) Searching in facets
  6. 6. Effective Searching 3: Narrow your search Let’s start with: (1) Focussing your search a) Combining search concepts (proximity connectors) b) Phrase searching (2) Filtering your search a) Excluding results (NOT connector) b) Searching in facets
  7. 7. Combining search terms 1: If your research question is focussed on the use of Propaganda in President Habyarimana’s Rwanda, you are likely to want to ensure that the most relevant results are talking about both concepts.
  8. 8. (a) Combining search concepts Using the AND connector will return only those results which include both the term Rwanda and the term propaganda. AND Combining search terms 1
  9. 9. (a) Combining search concepts Some services will assume an AND between two terms even if you don’t include it… … but not all. AND e.g. Combining search terms 1
  10. 10. (a) Combining search concepts Examples include: AND Power Search: Requires use of ‘AND’ connector. If not included, searches for terms appearing as a phrase or where two terms appear consecutively. Including the ‘AND’ connector “combines search terms so that each search result contains all of the terms”. Not including runs a search against an account default setting (At Durham, this is “appearing within 5 words of”) http://support.ebsco.com.ezphost.dur.ac.uk/help/index.php?help_id=35 Combining search terms 1
  11. 11. (a) Combining search concepts So you may want to get into the habit of using it even when not necessary… 1. Avoid mistakes 2. Make cutting & pasting your search between databases easier. Combining search terms 1
  12. 12. Combining search terms 2: If you have already identified multiple alternative terms to describe your key concepts (e.g. teenager OR adolescent, attainment OR achievement) you need to think carefully about how you combine these elements within your search…
  13. 13. b) Combining search concepts: multiple synonyms (teen OR adolescent) AND (attainment OR achievement) AND Combining search terms 2: AND teen OR adolescent attainment OR achievement
  14. 14. Combining search terms 3: But sometimes, combining terms using the AND connector can still return a large number of results which don’t seem relevant…
  15. 15. c) Proximity connectors truth AND reconciliation Will return results where both terms appear, anywhere within the document. They could appear several pages apart and be completely unrelated. Combining search terms 3:
  16. 16. c) Proximity connectors truth AND reconciliation To account for this, some databases will allow you to use a proximity connector instead of AND. This will only return results where one keyword appears within # words of another keyword. Combining search terms 3:
  17. 17. c) Proximity connectors truth w/3 reconciliation WITHIN 3 WORDS – WILL BE INCLUDED MORE THAN 3 WORDS – WOULD NOT BE INCLUDED Combining search terms 3:
  18. 18. (b) Proximity connectorsSTOP WORDS USUALLY IGNORED (BUT NOT ALWAYS – BE AWARE)! Combining search terms 3:
  19. 19. Truth w/5 reconciliationTruth /5 reconciliation Truth N5 reconciliation Truth adj5 reconciliation Truth NEAR/5 reconciliation NOTE – DIFFERENT DATABASES WILL USE DIFFERENT SYMBOLS FOR PROXIMITY CONNECTORS. EXAMPLES INCLUDE: All of the above could be used for a similar purpose: Finding results where ‘truth’ appeared within 5 words of ‘reconciliation. But some databases might use ‘N5’ to achieve this where another database might use ‘w/5’ or ‘adj5’. Combining search terms 3:
  20. 20. Combining search terms 3: Some databases (such as JSTOR) use proximity connectors differently – and this can impact on how you run more complex searches. “A search for debt forgiveness~10 will give you results that include both the words "debt" and "forgiveness" within 10 words of each other.” https://support.jstor.org/hc/en-us/articles/115012261448-Searching-Truncation-Wildcards-and-Proximity This can mean some searches won’t work in JSTOR which would work in another database. For example, if you need to search for a phrase (e.g. “duty of care”) in proximity to another term (e.g. ‘snail’).
  21. 21. Phrase searching Sometimes it might be useful to search for only results which include a specific phrase. This could be when searching for: • Commonly used names of people or organisations • Specific events • Widely recognised terminology and/or methodologies. E.g. “duty of care”, “Ottobah Cugoano”, “Charity Commission”, “sudden infant death syndrome” or “free radical polymerisation”
  22. 22. “ Truth and Reconciliation Commission” Put the phrase you are searching for in speech marks... Phrase searching
  23. 23. “ Truth and Reconciliation Commission” Phrase searching
  24. 24. {Truth and Reconciliation Commission} Phrase searching … does it differently
  25. 25. {Truth and Reconciliation Commission} Exact phrase Phrase searching … does it differently
  26. 26. {Truth and Reconciliation Commission} “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” Exact phrase Approximate or ‘loose’ phrase Phrase searching … does it differently
  27. 27. Effective Searching 3: Narrow your search Now let’s look at: (1) Focussing your search a) Combining search concepts (proximity connectors) b) Phrase searching (2) Filtering your search a) Excluding results (NOT connector) b) Searching in facets
  28. 28. Excluding terms Sometimes you might run a search, and notice a lot of the results returned are irrelevant because they focus on a related topic you are not interested in. You may therefore want to exclude all results from your search which mention a particular word.
  29. 29. “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” NOT “South Africa” Will return results where the phrase “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” appears, but exclude those results which also include the term “South Africa”… Excluding terms
  30. 30. “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” NOT “South Africa” … but be careful with the NOT connector. It might exclude results which offer a comparative view, or results where the excluded term appears only in a reference or footnote, which may still be of interest. Excluding terms
  31. 31. Excluding terms This can sometimes have a dramatic impact on the number of results you find and need to review… … so be careful with the NOT connector. It might exclude results which offer a comparative view, or results where the excluded term appears only in a reference or footnote, which may be of interest.
  32. 32. Searching within facets • In addition to narrowing your search by choice of keywords and connectors… • Consider carefully where you search for terms appearing within a document. • Use the filters provided, or search in particular fields (title, subject, abstract) • If you only search for results where your most important terms appear in the title or abstract, you will likely have fewer results to evaluate and they should be more relevant.
  33. 33. Searching within facets
  34. 34. Searching within facets Once you have your initial search results, you can use the filters offered to limit your results further by date published, subject area, type of publication and more.
  35. 35. So in summary: Narrowing your search - Summary – Focus your search copyright AND photographs – Proximity searching negligen* w/5 PwC – Phrase searching “duty of care” – Excluding terms property NOT intellectual – Faceted searching e.g. in ABSTRACT only Terminology and symbols vary, depending on which database or catalogue you are using Summary
  36. 36. Effective Searching Define your information need • What types of resource do you need? • Identify where to search. • Identify your key concepts. Broaden your search • Be compre- hensive. • Ensure nothing is missed un- necessarily. • “Cast your nets wide.” Narrow your search • Be focused. • Exclude any ‘noise’. • Ensure you can use your reading time most efficiently. • “Use the right nets.” Evaluate your results • Identify gaps. • Assess un- expected results. • Review search terms with new knowl- edge. Make your results work for you • Be efficient with your time. • Search alerts. • Citation searching.
  37. 37. Effective Searching 4: Constructing & Evaluating your search

Editor's Notes

  • “15299l” https://pixabay.com/en/darts-dart-board-bull-s-eye-game-102919/
    CC 0
  • This is about you controlling the context in which search results are included, and identifying and excluding those results which are ‘odd one’s out’ – they mention the search terms you have chosen, but they don’t fit in with the overall pattern or topic you are interested in sufficiently enough to warrant your time and effort.
  • Be aware of some differences or additional features in specific databases
  • Be aware of some differences or additional features in specific databases
  • Be aware of some differences or additional features in specific databases
  • Do not dwell on this.. An important (and perhaps obvious) part of the process, but one that may not be an obvious or easy answer initially – you often have to search first in different places to see what gives the best range of results… and then from your results list see what subject terms or filters are offered based on those results.
  • As postgraduate researchers, there is not just a pressure to “find some stuff”… but you will feel you are expected to have found and read everything which is of relevance to your topic of research, and read around the edges to clearly define your topic.

    Reading everything is, of course, an impossible task. So what you actually need to have is the confidence, (for meetings with supervisors, conference papers you deliver, articles your write… and then your final completed thesis, your viva and any subsequent direction your career takes you…) the confidence that you have found (and read) everything of importance, and an ability to articulate and demonstrate why you are confident you have searched for that information effectively.

    DEFINE

    - This has two motivations:

    In terms of form, you must search in the most appropriate places, having decided the type and amount of information you want based upon your information need
    In terms of subject, you are also defining your boundaries. It is likely that for any extended piece of research you are going to have multiple ‘contexts’ and ‘avenues’ to explore – and there may be other linked areas you are not interested in. Having a broad understanding of the topic may also help inform your choice of search term, as well as helping you identify those areas you wish to exclude from your search.

    BROADEN

    Metaphor – cast your net wide to make sure you can capture as much as possible that ‘might’ be relevant, and ensuring you aren’t missing anything which might potentially be useful.

    - this is about being comprehensive, rather than focussing to precisely to start with.

    This is about ensuring you don’t inadvertently miss anything.

    NARROW

    Metaphor: ensuring you are using the right nets for the job to allow those results you don’t want to slip through the holes, and those you are to be pulled onto your deck.

    - once you have ensured your search can be as comprehensive as possible, you then need to make sure you focus it to help filter out the ‘noise’ and to just return the most relevant results.

    This is about ensuring you use your reading time most efficiently.

    EVALUATE

    This is not about critically evaluating the content and conclusions of the articles.

    This is about evaluating your results as a whole to identify problems with your search, or improvements you could make.

    - rarely will you find all the most relevant and appropriate results in your first search. Using the results you do find to identify:-

    Key authors, or opposing arguments, to explore further
    Alternative and additional search terms
    Specific topics you might want to focus on
    New avenues of research topic or methodology

    WORK FOR YOU

    Finally, this is about using those key sources you locate to work for you:-

    - providing you with a rich source of pre-selected earlier research from their own list of references
    - citation searching to see how the ideas and research in the key sources you have identified have been taken and developed further



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