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Information Retrieval: Revise and edit

When you discover one good source, you can discover more...

  • by using the search terms that have been used to describe the document you already have at hand.
  • by exploring if the author of the document you discovered has written anything else about the topic.
  • by exploring the references of the document you discovered: this way you can find previously published sources about the topic.
  • by studying the publications that have used the document you discovered as a source. You can find this "cited by" information e.g. in Google Scholar. This allows you to find more more recent sources about the topic.

Revise the search

It is common that the first searches don't produce the best results.

Typically there are too many or few results, or they are not relevant at all.

One of the most common stumbling blocks in information seeking is to get stuck on one or two search terms that don't yield results. You can get better results by finding alternative search terms and combining them in new ways.

No results or wrong kinds of results

  • find more search terms that describe your topic
  • search other databases, and make sure the database includes content about your topic
  • see search tips in the database's instructions page
  • make use of the native or original thesauri of the databases

Too many results

  • narrow the search results by language or publication date
  • combine the search terms with AND operator
  • don't truncate the search terms
  • don't add the search term's synonyms or realted concepts with an OR operator
  • consider if there is a narrower alternative to the search term

Too few results

  • consider synonyms and related concepts and combine them with an OR operator
  • find broader concepts to your search terms
  • use a basic search and truncate your search terms
  • is the database you're searching the most relevant one?
  • remember alternative spellings, e.g. "speech communication" OR "oral communication".

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