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  • Road to IELTS general training
  • Teacher Reference Centre

Search tips for electronic resources

Not getting the results you want?

There are several ways to improve your search results when using our electronic resources.

Each resource and search tool will have its own specific features, but these general tips can help you improve your results. Remember, you can also ask a librarian for more help if you need it.

Before you search

  1. Define your question carefully e.g. is there a relationship between weight problems and computer use in teenagers?
  2. Choose the best keywords for that question e.g. weight, problems, computer/s, teenagers.
  3. Check the kind of entry the database expects e.g. author name, book title, or keyword.

Refine your search

Use these words to more clearly define your search:

  • AND to find articles which have both terms e.g. computer AND health AND problems
  • OR so that each result will contain at least one of the terms e.g. (computer OR PC) and Health
  • NOT to exclude a particular term from the results e.g. computer and health and (teens NOT children)

Further options:

  • Use alternative search words e.g. for teenagers use: teens or young adults or adolescents.
  • Add more keywords or bracket words together e.g. "computer use", "health problems."
  • Think about alternative spelling e.g. catalogue or catalog

Limit your search

  • Some databases allow you to limit the search by date or full-text or format etc.

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