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Search tips

Search tips

Search tips:

  • only enter your topic keywords into the search box
  • use quotes to search as a phrase e. g. "climate crisis" 
  • use the asterisk to extend a word e. g. child* = children, childhood
  • limit search results to make them more relevant:
    • by date
    • by format -  books, journal articles, newspapers or other options
    • by peer-reviewed or scholarly

This video shows some search operators in action. (Duration: 2:25)

You can also improve your searching by using three small words: AND, OR, NOT. This video shows you how. (Duration: 3:10)

Look for alternative words

It is useful to think of alternative keywords to search for. There are no right and wrong answers when doing this - it should help narrow the focus of your assignment in a way that is unique to you. If a topic is about how technology affects the relationships of young people we can think of related words and phrases to search for: 

Technology Relationships Young people
mobile phones family teenagers
social media friendships adolescents
gaming identity students

Try it for yourself: in Library Search use different combinations of the keywords above and see how the results vary. Then try to think of alternative search terms for words you have searched for in your course.  

Utilise your readings

Most subjects will have a Reading List where you can find the assigned readings. These are useful because they have been chosen by lecturers specifically for that subject. To get good marks for most assignments, you will want to find additional sources that complement these readings. Use these tips to find more sources related to your assigned readings:

  • Scan the title and abstract for interesting words and key phrases that can be used to build a search
  • Look at the reference lists of the assigned readings to see what sources were used by the authors
  • In Library Search and some databases, you can see other works that have cited the resource - when in Library Search, little upwards-pointing arrows next to the title will reveal sources that have cited this text
  • Try looking for other things written by the same author or authors – include their names in a key word search or click the authors name from the source's 'details page' in Library Search to see what else they have written.

Librarian Link

Still have questions? Do you want to talk to an expert? Librarians are available.