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Search and Find - Information Searcher's Journey

Refining and Narrowing Your Search

Improving Search Results

Even if you get a lot of search results, it's also important that the publications you find are relevant to your topic. The number of search results alone does not always indicate everything. You can also improve precision by refining your search terms. By default, databases often focus their search on the title, abstract and subject headings, so the search term(s) you enter must appear in one of these fields. This means that a keyword may only appear once in the abstract of an article and the article itself may deal with a completely different topic.

Search terms can be targeted to specific search fields only, an option usually found in the advanced search. However, it is worth noting that focusing search terms only on a specific field may limit the search results too much, and essential references may be excluded from the search results.


It is often impossible to do an all-inclusive search with only relevant results at once. Depending on the subject and the databases used, the search terms used may need to be modified several times. Sometimes there may be too many search results, sometimes too few. You may therefore need to refine or broaden your subject at various stages of your search. The results may also be something completely different from what you wanted, and you may have to change your search terms and strategies a lot.


Expanding and Narrowing Search Results