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ITC571 Research Skills Guide: Search tips

Common Search Tips

There are a number of techniques you can use while searching to get better and more relevant results.

Using the keywords identified in the previous keyword mapping example, to try using the following search operators and examples.

Alternatively try these search terms in a database Advanced Search.

Advanced search

When you have multiple keywords or complex search queries, using Advanced search can be helpful. This usually involves several different boxes for your different keywords, built-in search operators, and more options for field searching and limiters.

Most databases will have a link to Advanced Search next to their Basic search option. Advanced Search in Google Scholar is accessible from the menu.

These search tips can help you to find more relevant results in Primo Search and many other library databases. If these tips don't work in the database you are using check their help section for their set of symbols.

Search Operator Example
Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms. ICT AND issues
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. information technology OR IT
Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results. cybercrime NOT crime
Combine terms with parentheses to create complex searches. (information communication technology OR ICT) AND issues
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase "database systems"
Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk. manag* = manage, managed, managing, management
A question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word. analy?e = analyse, analyze

Proximity Searching

A proximity search forces a database to find results where one search term appears within a certain number of words of another search term. The proximity operator varies according to the database. 

Examples from an Ebscohost database:

  • Ethics N3 autonomous vehicles (N=near). This will find results where Ethics is within 3 words of autonomous vehicles in any order
  • Ethics W3 autonomous vehicles (W=within) This will find results where Ethics is within 3 words of autonomous vehicles in the order in which you entered the search terms

Find additional keywords

Dictionaries and encyclopaedias can help you to find additional keywords and get an overview of the concept.

In the Oxford Reference search box below, enter some of the keywords you've identified from your assessment question and note down any alternate keywords that you find.

Find your definitions by searching Oxford Reference Online

Get better search results

Using Google Scholar

Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.

Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. CRICOS Provider: 00005F.