This section will help you to create an effective search strategy and perform basic searches in Library Search using keywords.
By the end of this section, you should be able to:
When searching for information, it's crucial to acknowledge that databases do not recognise full sentences. Hence, utilising keywords in our search becomes vital. Now, let's examine the question below and identify its keywords.
"What are the potential barriers young people may face when accessing health and social care services?"
First step - identify the keywords?
It is unlikely that everyone who writes about your topic uses the same words to describe it and sometimes the same words can be used for different topics. Information services often use a controlled vocabulary to describe the contents of articles and books.
Barriers – obstacles, challenges ( Consider barriers such as language, gender, age, culture)
Young People – adolescents, youth, teenagers…
Health services – health care, doctor*, nurs*, NHS, National Health Service…
Social care – social work*, social services
Some words can be treated as instructions that tell the information service how to search. This is called Boolean searching after George Boole who set out the logical rules that govern their use. Check the help pages or experiment to see what works. For most services the following are useful, but not all databases have full Boolean searching.
Finds only items that contain all the words linked by AND.
Finds any item that contains one of the words or phrases linked by OR.
Excludes unwanted items that you do NOT want to appear in the results.
Most databases or search engines will treat each word as a separate words and automatically put an AND between them. If you want to find a phrase you need to put it in speech marks (quotation marks). For example "young people" will find fewer results than young people. It is up to you to decide which search best meets your needs.
Some databases may allow you to choose how your search terms are handled by offering a drop down menu of search options.
Truncation is a technique used to expand a search term to include various word endings or variations. By adding a symbol, often an asterisk (*), at the end of a root word, truncation allows for retrieving multiple forms and variations of the word.
Use Truncation to expand your search
Truncation is particularly useful when there are different word endings or variations that could be relevant to the search. It saves time by retrieving a broader range of results in a single search rather than conducting separate searches for each possible variation.
However, it's important to note that truncation should be used with caution. Sometimes, truncating a word can also retrieve unrelated or irrelevant terms. It's essential to review and evaluate the retrieved results to ensure they align with the intended search and information needs.