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ELISE | Informing your studies tutorial: Search health check

Search health check


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Search Health Check

Not finding what you need? Troubleshoot your database search with this handy checklist:

  1. Start with a simple search. Gauge what information is available on the topic. Then you can refine your terms.
  2. Search your key concepts. Only search for the key concepts you have identified, not your whole assessment question. Avoid general terms like impact, characteristics or influence as they may not appear in the articles you need. Avoid using too many terms.
  3. Choose appropriate terms. Ensure your terms are not too broad or narrow. E.g. for information on melting ice caps, a broad search on climate change will return many irrelevant results.
  4. Check your spelling. Databases often search exactly what you type in, including spelling mistakes. Search both British and American English variations, e.g. behaviour and behavior.
  5. Try alternative terms. Check titles, abstracts and subject terms of relevant articles for alternative search terms. Look at the references of these articles as well as the citations to find more papers.
  6. Use the right databases. Check the UNSW Library Subject Guides.
  7. Search for the right resource type. Be aware of the types of resources you are retrieving. You can often refine your search to articles, ebooks, dissertations etc.

Drop in to UNSW Library for more help with your search.