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Have you retrieved too many results?
- Find better search terms or keywords. Think of terms that are more specific and modify your search.
- Add more search terms. Start with a smaller number of keywords and then add more terms to refine your search.
- Use limiters (filters). Apply the database's limiters such as date and format to give you more targeted results.
- Notice the default search options. Databases often search in the title, author, abstract, and subject fields, by default. Be specific and search for your terms in the title or abstract field (for example).
- Narrow your topic. Your topic may to too broad so consider a more focused aspect of the topic.
Have you retrieved too few results?
- Try searching a discipline-specific database. Search in a database that specializes in a certain topic.
- Broaden your topic. Did you start too narrow and specific? Is the topic too new? Think about broader search terms on the subject.
- Use fewer search terms. Start with a smaller number of keywords and add more as needed.
- User few limiters (filters). If it fits within the parameters of your assignment, remove a limit to expand your search and retrieve more results.
- Check your spelling. Unlike Google, most databases will not correct your spelling.
- Consider more synonyms for your concepts and OR them to your strategy.
- Use truncation symbols and wildcards to include additional variations of your search terms. Consult the "Help" section of the database for more specific information.
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