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How to find articles

Step 4 - Evaluate results

Read the summaries (or abstracts) of the articles your search retrieved. Take time to critically analyze and evaluate those you are planning to use to see how well each contributes to the aims of your research assignment. When you browse your results, pay attention to the vocabulary used in the subject heading or descriptor fields; these will provide you with alternative or additional terms to use should you need to focus or expand your search.

Refine your search strategy

Did you retrieve too many articles?

  • You may need to focus your search by adding another concept (keyword):
    For example, instead of violence AND television use violence AND television AND children

  • You may need to search within specific segments of the database, such as SUBJECT HEADINGS or COMPANY NAME, as opposed to using the default search setup, which is usually by keyword

  • Check the limit features of the database; perhaps you need to limit your results by date of publication, language or type of publication

Did you retrieve only a few articles?

  • You may need to broaden it by using more words to describe one concept:
    For example, (violen* OR rage OR abusive behaviour OR battering) AND television

  • Note that the truncation symbol (most often an asterisk *) retrieves variations of the same word:
    For example, use violen* instead of violent OR violence
Consider different databases

You may find that, although you used the right words, the articles retrieved are not appropriate for your research. For example, instead of retrieving articles that discuss the social aspects of TV violence on children, you retrieved articles on how TV violence can affect the consumer behaviour of children. Before adding additional concepts to refine your search, verify that the database you selected is appropriate for your subject area.

Reconsider your topic

Sometimes, there just is not enough information on your topic and you may want to consider changing or modifying it. Before you do so, consult with a librarian. A librarian may help you develop a more suitable strategy for your research.

 
page last updated on: Thursday 14 September 2017
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