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HED 5553 Research Methods in Health Education and Sport: Search Tips

Before You Throw in the Towel

Have you tried...

  • using basic keywords vs. phrases?  
  • the database thesaurus for additional search terms (synonyms)?
  • quotations to search for a specific phrase?   
  • using AND, OR, and NOT (Boolean Operators) to connect more than one search term?
  • adding a * to the root of the word to truncate and search all related forms?   Example: psych* = psychology, psychological, psychologists, etc.

Search Tips for Databases

  1. Be prepared with synonyms in case your original search produces no results. Use a thesaurus if the database is equipped with one.
  2. Pay attention to search tips or help screens provided by each database. Even experienced researchers (like professors and librarians!) can have trouble when dealing with a new interface. Take the time to learn how to use the tool - it will help you to avoid frustration!
  3. Remember that most databases allow for Boolean Searching (see YouTube video below). Use and to narrow, or to expand, not to exlude. Truncation is also useful for bringing back all relevant results. For example, type counsel* to bring back documents containing the words counsel, counseling, counselor....
  4. Take advantage of the following sources of help:

  5. College of Education Resource Coordinator: Sarah Burkhead Whittle. Use the information on the right sidebar to contact me with a question or to schedule a one-on-one reference session.

    Reference On Call at JVL is staffed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Thursday and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Friday by reference librarians or other experienced library staff members.

Your Librarian

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Sarah Burkhead Whittle
John Vaughan Library 214D