Applying your search correctly to databases and search tools is critical to finding relevant literature. Search interfaces will look different but often have similar search functionality and features.
Example question: Does the general public support the use of quotas as a strategy to get more women into parliament?
Scopus search example:
Many databases and search tools have a range of search tricks (functions) which can help you search more effectively and efficiently.
Below are some of the key ones to be aware of.
Applying the same search across many different databases?
This may require you to adapt your search as search interfaces and functions may vary slightly between databases. Always check the help pages for each database.
For more help:
Many databases will have limits which you can use to you help narrow your results.
Some common limits to consider:
Never limit to full text only as you will most likely miss relevant publications.
More sophisticated limits are available in some databases, like medical databases, allowing you to limit by age group or study design.
Hedges and filters are premade searches, many of which are verified, which you can incorporate into your search to help narrow it. Learn more here:
It is important that you take time to continually review your search and make improvements to it.
|Strategies to critically review your search|
|Note terms in your results||
Are you finding new terminology? Can you incorporate these into your search?
|Note number of results||
Too many results? Add another concept to your search.
Remember this may be because a lot is already published in the area.
Very few results? Use broader terms or remove a concept.
There could be gaps in the research area and, thus not a lot published.
Test your search
If you are aware of key studies, make sure your search strategy finds them.
If the studies are not appearing ask yourself why?
Are you finding relevant studies? Are results appearing that you are not expecting? Why?