Search smarter, not harder
Do you ever feel that even with millions of Google search results you still cannot find the information you need? Or have you ever spent a long time searching the library's catalogue only to conclude no books on your topic exist? Here are some tips to help you search smarter, not harder.
Use a Subject guide: UVic librarians have created nearly 150 subject guides on topics from Anthropology to Women's Studies. These guides bring together some of the leading encyclopedias, dictionaries, e-journals, article databases, and webpages in your discipline. Consult these guides to save time and frustration.
Ask for help: If you can't find anything after about ten minutes of searching, it may be time to ask for help. Consult a librarian to guide you through your search. Visit, call, email, or instant message the Library Help Desk.
Search across disciplines: You may be amazed by the number of related resources you can find on your topic when you expand your search beyond sources that focus only within your discipline. For example, if you are writing a paper on environmental law, why not look in the Political Science, Geography, and Ecological Sciences sections as well.
Use Search Techniques: Some simple search techniques can increase the relevance of your results and save you a lot of time.
- Use synonyms: Often there are multiple ways to express the same concept. For example, teenagers and adolescents mean essentially the same thing. Make sure to use both terms in your search to get all relevant results.
- Use quotation marks: If one of your synonyms contains more than one word (e.g., climate change) use quotation marks (" ") around the whole phrase (e.g., "climate change") to ensure the words are searched for together and not separately.
- Truncate: Shortening, or truncating, a keyword by using symbols such as "*" or "?" is an excellent way to improve your search results. For example, canad* will retrieve results for the words Canada, Canadian, and Canadians. Truncating means you don't have to search for these words separately by typing each one individually.
- Use "AND" and "OR": By bridging your truncated keywords and synonyms with the capitalized search words "AND" and "OR" (known as Boolean operators), you can search for multiple concepts effectively.
- Use parentheses: Using parentheses ( ), called "nesting," groups terms together so you can combine even more concepts. For example: (teenagers OR adolescents) AND (beliefs OR attitudes) AND alcohol.
- Use limiters: Limit your search to look only for the title or author, within a certain date range, in a certain format, and more. This eliminates a lot of irrelevant results immediately.
Synonyms, quotes, truncation, Boolean, and nesting in action:
|Everywhere you search, from the library catalogue and article databases to Google and Yahoo will have a Help page, sometimes linked from or a part of Advanced Search options. Explore these pages for site-specific search tips.|
More search tips
Need more help finding books using the UVic Libraries' catalogue? Check out Books & More search tips and examples.
For more information contact:
Teaching and Learning Office