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Database vs. Internet

  • Databases offer content that is evaluated by publishers for authority and accuracy. The information is stable, organized and indexed for more accurate searches.
  • Anyone can publish information on the internet. Evaluate the websites that you find and try to determine the source of the site and the validity of its content.
  • The library has already paid for the premium content in the databases, so as a library user, you get to use them for free.

Online Search Tips

Follow these great tips and get better results:

  • Use keywords or search terms that come directly from your research topic or homework question
  • Be specific (e.g. use St. Bernard instead of dogs)
  • If you don’t get many search results, try a broader term
  • Try using words with the same or similar meaning (e.g. search using tests, quizzes, examinations)
  • Try variations of the word (e.g. swim, swimming, swims)
  • Use “and” to search for more than one keyword (e.g. steroids and sports)
  • Use quotation marks (“) to combine keywords into phrases (e.g. “federal budget”)
  • Use “or” to search for results that contain either keyword (e.g. housing and Vancouver or Calgary)
  • Check the “Help” or “About” feature provided by the search engines and databases

Advanced Searching Tips

Databases often have more options for advanced searching. The tips below apply to most databases:

  • Search for word variants with the use of a wildcard, such as an asterisk or question mark (e.g. a search for swim* will search for the terms swim, swims, swimmers & swimming). Wildcards vary among databases so consult the “Help” or “About” feature.
  • Most databases provide subject headings that are relevant to your search. These may be simply called “subject” or “suggested topics.”
  • Click on a subject heading to conduct a new search, or combine the subject heading with your original search to narrow the results.
  • Limit your search by time period (e.g. search only articles published in the last 3 months, or choose a date range).
  • Limit your search by publication, scholarly journals or full text.