This page is intended to give you general advice on how to get the best out of the search engines used by the kind of databases we provide. Unlike Internet search engines, these databases contain carefully catalogued information, and you can exploit this to improve your searching skills.
If you plan your searches in advance, you have more chance of finding all that you need so you won't need to go back online when you realise that you haven't got that essential piece of information. Before you even go near the Internet, spend some time thinking about exactly what information you need for your exam or essay.
Start by jotting down words or phrases as they come to mind, as this may help to define exactly what information you need. As your ideas become clearer, try to write a single sentence or search statement which exactly describes what you need to know.
Unfortunately, if you type your search statement into an internet search engine, you won’t get the results that you need. Therefore, you need to transform your search statement into a set of key words or phrases that can be used to carry out a search on the internet or on a database. A good technique to help you do this it is to underline the keyword or ideas in the sentence, as this will help to split your information need into searchable chunks.
Once you have your list of key words or ideas you will need to make sure that you have all the possible alternative words that could be used to describe your list of ideas. For example, there are several alternative terms for effective (e.g. competent, productive, proficient, capable) and even the internet can be referred to in several different ways (e.g. internet, net, www, world-wide-web). To make sure that you cover all the possibilities you need to take into account:
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