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Research Tips: Search
Results Tips

Strategies to Narrow Your Search

If you have too many results, or your results are not specific enough, then try some of these strategies to focus your search.

  • Add another concept to your search (using the Boolean AND)  For example: Obesity AND Soft Drinks AND Child* instead of only Obesity AND Soft Drinks
  • If you are searching with keywords, look for any relevant subject headings
  • Use the most specific keywords or subject headings Example: Alzheimer Disease instead of Dementia
  • Use fewer or no synonyms within a concept search (OR)
  • In keyword searches, use fewer or no truncation symbols
  • In subject heading searches, use subheadings to narrow the focus of a subject
  • In subject heading searches, make a subject heading a "Major" subject heading
  • Limit your search to type of article, language, age group, years, etc
  • Field search for more precision. For example, search for words in the title field
  • Look at your research question-- Is it too broad?

Strategies to Broaden Your Search

If you have not found any results, or very few results, use some of these strategies to broaden your search.

  • Look for misspellings in your search terms
  • Remove the least important concept from your search. The more concepts that you AND together, the narrower the results
  • Use broader or related keywords and/or subject headings For example: Obesity instead of Morbid Obesity
  • Add synonyms for each search concept (Using the Boolean OR)
  • In keywords searches, use the truncation symbol to retrieve word variations
  • If you have added limiters to your search, remove them
  • Try a different database
  • Review your research question-- Is it too narrow?