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Searching for Articles & Using Databases

Troubleshooting Your Searches


Too few results?

If you are finding too little information, your topic may be too narrow, specialized, or current. In that case use these:

Strategies to Broaden a Topic
Generalize Generalize your topic.  If your topic is the health effects of fracking on a specific community, broaden your topic to all communities in a state or the United States.
Currency If your topic is very current, there may not be books or journal articles available yet. Choose an alternative topic that is not so recent, or if permitted, use newspapers which are updated daily.
Database Choice Other databases in your subject area or consider databases in a related subject area might cover the topic from a different perspective.
Synonyms Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for your topic. When reading background information, note the terminology that is used.
Related Explore related issues.
Expand/Remove Expand or remove: location, time period, aspect, event, population, person/group.
Example of a Narrow Topic:

Does cartoon viewing cause aggression in children under age five?


What are the negative effects of TV on children and adolescents?

Finding too Much Information

If you are finding too much information, and you're having a hard time finding exactly what you're looking for, your research topic may be too broad. Consider narrowing it to a more specific topic. This can be done by using limiters, specific subject headings, and field qualifiers.


Context and Examples for Narrowing
Time Civil War, Iron Age, 1920's, 18th Century
Location Europe, U.S., Denver, urban, eastern
Population age, race, gender, nationality, ethnic group, occupation
Event or Aspect government regulations related to cloning, Battle of the Bulge in WWII
Person or Group college students, Democrats, Republicans
Broad Topic:

Global warming

Narrower Topic:

How will climate change impact sea levels and the coastal United States?