Refine Your Search

When You Have Too Many Search Results...

Find better search terms or keywords - Think of terms that are more specific and try changing the keywords or terms;

Use more search terms - Start with a small number of keywords, then add more specific keywords;

Use limiters - Limiters such as date and resource type retrieve a targeted results list. For example, you can search for articles, or search for articles within the past 2 years;

Do not use the Boolean operator OR - This search tool looks for either word rather than both and should be used sparingly;

Narrow your topic - Think about a more focused aspect of your topic. If you are researching plastics in oceans, then perhaps choose a specific ocean and focus on nanoplastics.


When You Do Not Have Enough Search Results...

Try a database on your topic - Search in a database that specializes in a certain subject. For subject-specific database suggestions, try our Research Guides.

Broaden your topic - You may need to think more broadly about your topic. For example, if you are researching the impact of hybrid cars and CO2 emissions, you might broaden your search to hybrid cars and air pollution;

Change your keywords - Replace your keywords with similar or related terms. Discover new keywords by reading background information on your topic in scholarly subject encyclopedias;

Use fewer keywords - Each time you put in another search term you will get fewer results;

Use fewer limiters - Use limiters sparingly. For instance, if your professor requires only scholarly articles from the past 5 years, then use the limiter for scholarly articles and the date range.