| Academic Paper Support Book: Start here 【Web edition】
(Released: 2014.3.31, Last updated: 2016.7.13)
Column: Improving search skills! How to search efficiently
The point in search is to search general to specific.
Start by entering one or two keywords. Entering many keywords may narrow down your search too much, and eliminate relevant results.
What kind of ways are there to search for information efficiently from masses of information?
Do not just end your search after you type in words that you came up with. You can improve your search result by knowing small tips like refining or sorting the results, using AND/OR/NOT search, phrase search, perfect match search, and thesaurus search.
◆About figure 8:
In general, searching by university library will conduct an AND search automatically. However search rules differ for each database.
- AND search ⇒ university AND library By using AND search, you can find results containing both keywords. AND search helps to narrow down search results.
- OR search ⇒ library OR museum By using OR search, you can find results containing one of the keywords you enter. OR search helps return more search results.
- NOT search ⇒ library NOT museum By using NOT search, you can find results containing the first keyword (library) but not the second keyword (museum). NOT search helps eliminate materials including unnecessary information from the search result.
Search rules for OR search, and NOT search varies depending on the database (using capital letters, lowercase letters, using + and - etc.).
(Example for PubMed) cancer OR ulcer (using capital letters)
◆Other search tips:
If you find a paper that you like, using the keywords indicated on the paper to conduct further search is one method you can take.
- Phrase search ⇒ For example, searching by university library will conduct an AND search in general, and will include results with order of the words, university and library, interchanged and results that have words in between the specified words.
Conducting search by "university library" on the other hand, will give results that the order of the words are the same and there are no other words in between the given phrase.
This is a technique called phrase search.
You can more effectively narrow down your search result than AND search.
Using double quotation " " for phrase search is generally the case. However input rule differs for each database.
- Perfect match search ⇒ For example, when searching under the "Journal" column on CiNii Articles, dividing journal names by / (slashes), like /地震/ and /文学/ , will give search results of papers from journals 『地震』and 『文学』 and will omit papers from journals like 『日本地震工学会誌』 and 『現代文学史研究』.
This is a technique called perfect match search. This can effectively limit search results. There are databases that does not have this function.
- Using a Thesaurus ⇒ There is a possibility that the paper that you want will not be included in the search result when you conduct a search by words that you just came up with because those words are not used in the title of the article.
To prevent this kind of search omission, especially for databases that specializes in particular field
(ex. PubMed), keywords are attached to each paper that is based on "Thesaurus" which is a vocabulary reference that organizes and words with similar meanings.
Using this can prevent search omissions and enable searches by the theme of papers.
This function is named "MeSH Terms", "Subjects", "Subject Terms", and "Keywords" depending on the database. There are databases that does not have this function.
If there is anything that you are unsure of on using one of the library services, feel free to consult your department library counter or submit questions to the librarians using the "ASK Service".