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3.2.1 Too many results?

Evaluate your information
3.1 Assess your search results
3.2 Revise your search strategy
  * 3.2.1 Too many results?
  3.2.2 Not enough results?
3.2.3 Review your search tools
3.3 Evaluate your resources
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The following techniques will help to find more relevant materials:

Are your search terms too general?

Think carefully about your search terms. Be specific. Go back and look at the concept map constructed in 1.3 Map your ideas as this might help you to re-define your topic.

Think of more specific terms and/or additional concepts you can add to your search.

For example: Rather than searching on ethical theories, search on a specific theory, such as utilitarianism.

Use facets or limiters

Facets or limiters allow you to focus your search. Common limiters include:

Date or Year Limit to a specific date, year, or a range of dates or years.
Language Limit to resources available in a specific language.
Country or Geographic Limit to information that focuses on a specific country or region.
Fulltext articles only Some databases may allow you to retrieve only articles available in fulltext.
Scholarly or Refereed journals Some databases allow you limit to scholarly or refereed (peer-reviewed) information.
Article or content or document type Some databases allow you to limit by document type, such as a market report, case study, or editorial.
Domain Some Internet search tools allow you to limit by domain, which enables limiting by country and/or organisation type. See Tips for searching the Internet.
Format Some Internet search tools allow you to limit by file format such as .pdf or .doc files.

Use phrase searching

A phrase search will look for a string of words next to each other exactly as keyed (in the same order) which makes your search more specific. Most database require phrases to be enclosed in inverted commas. See 2.3.5 Phrase searching.

Use subject searching

Some subject databases such as PsycINFO, MEDLINE, CINAHL, use subject searching which improves access to information by retrieving all materials on a topic, even if the exact search term does not appear in the title or abstract. See 2.3.1 Keyword or subject searching?.

Use field searching

Use the field searching technique to restrict your search terms to a particular field.

For example: Rather than searching the entire record, search only in the title field.


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