Search Smarter, Not Harder: Search Terms

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Search Smarter, Not Harder! : 

Search Smarter, Not Harder! Picking your search terms: The need to know information.

Picking your search terms : 

Picking your search terms Searching a database isn’t like searching Google. Google allows you type whatever you want, and you will most likely get results that are close to what you want.

Picking your search terms : 

Picking your search terms Databases are much more precise…and much more picky. They like specific words and a specific way of typing them in the search bar.

Picking your search terms : 

Picking your search terms When articles are indexed in the databases, the person indexing them chooses some terms to describe the content of the article. When you search the database, you want to try to get as close to the terms they used as possible.

Searching : 

Searching This is why we can’t just type in words like we would in Google. Instead of getting some results that will be helpful, you will get nothing. When the database searches it is looking for a subject that exactly matches the words you typed in the search bar.

Searching : 

Searching Example: Say you are searching for articles about the shopping habits of teenage girls.

If you type… : 

If you type… “Shopping habits of teenage girls” Or Shopping habits teenage girls You will not find anything! The database is going to be looking for a subject with all of these specific words in it.

How to search a library database : 

How to search a library database You must think of your topic like a sentence and pick out the different subjects in it. Shopping habits and teenage girls Subject I Subject II

Then… : 

Then… You must take all of topics and connect them with the word “AND.” This tells the search engine you are looking for articles with all of these different subjects. Shopping habits AND teenage girls

But… : 

But… It may be that even if you’ve set the search up correctly, you will not get the results you want. WHY?

Sometimes…. : 

Sometimes…. When articles are indexed in databases, someone will choose a term to describe all the subjects in the article. Sometimes the terms that we would use to describe something are NOT the ones that the indexer used.

Solution! : 

Solution! This is why most every database has a thesaurus. You may see it called a: Subject Index Browse by Subject Subject Terms Or Subject Headings

The Thesaurus : 

The Thesaurus The Thesaurus allows us to either search for our term and find out if it is the correct one to use OR It has a list of subjects for you browse, and clicking on the correct subject will return a list of articles about that topic.

Example : 

Example Say you are looking for information on bars and advertising to minors, but you aren’t coming up with what you’d like. Check the subject guide-if a database has one, it is usually located at the top of the database tool bar or on the side of the page.

Subject Terms Location : 

Subject Terms Location Follow the arrow for the location of the Subject Terms. This feature is located on almost every EBSCO database (may also be called a thesaurus or subject headings), and is also in other subscribed databases.

Next… : 

Next… Type the term you are looking for into this search box, and hit return.

Then… : 

Then… You will find your term. For example, by typing in the word “bar” into the search box, we find out that there may be a couple of reasons why the results are not exactly what we are looking for….

Results : 

Results You see that there are many different types of subjects that use the word “bars” in the title. If you are looking for articles on bars that serve alcohol, you should use the term Bars (Drinking establishments). This will give you results that deal with the topic you are looking for, instead of articles about Bar Furniture or Dessert Bars! …We never said that this was easy!

Slide 19: 

If you want to check what else is covered under this term, or look at some related terms, you can click on the word and this will give you some more information.

Example : 

Example For example, by clicking on the word “bars (Drinking establishments), it suggests some other broader, narrower, or related terms that you can use in your search.

Example cont… : 

Example cont… A search for the term “advertising” in the subject terms bank reveals that there is a specific term for advertising to minors called “Advertising and Youth.”

So… : 

So… In the find bar, you can type: Bars (Drinking Establishments) AND Advertising & Youth And get very accurate and precise results.

Slide 23: 

This feature is also available in Sage Journals Online, by going to the “Browse” tab and selecting “Articles by Discipline.” You then get a list of broad subjects to select-from which you can narrow down further for terms.

In fact… : 

In fact… Almost all databases have this “thesaurus” or at the very least a “Browse By Subject” feature.

Gale Opposing Viewpoints : 

Gale Opposing Viewpoints

Faulkner IT Studies : 

Faulkner IT Studies

CQ Researcher : 

CQ Researcher



...and many more. : 

...and many more. You get the picture! So next time you are doing a search, and not getting the best results, try checking the subject index/thesaurus. You may stumble on something you hadn’t thought of!

Have questions? Need help? : 

Have questions? Need help? Contact your reference librarian at: Phone: (603) 428-2344 Email: Website: For more help videos, check out our YouTube Site! (

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