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The search process is recursive--you'll do one search, choose the best resources, and search again using the knowledge you gained from the search before. You can assess the strength and value of your keywords and refine the results all from the page displaying your list of results. The goals of this stage of research are:
Evaluate the strength of your keywords
- First, check the "search returned" number --a large number means your keyword/s are too general, and a small number means that your keyword/s are too specific (or are spelled incorrectly).
- Next, scan your search results--do you have a keyword match in the title, subject, abstract, and/or full text?
Manipulate the list of results to see if you can get what you really want
- Use the built-in tools to see if you can do better: adjust the date range; use the subjects box; select document type/s
Find out if you are on the right track
- Click on the title to any items that look promising,
- then: read the abstract; read the list of subjects to see if you can be using different keywords; click on any subject link to see other articles similar to the one you're viewing.
- Email or download any items that you want to keep
- Write down / type up a list of the keywords that you used in your search--save time later by keeping track of work you have already done.
Explore the image below -- mouseover the targets to learn more about the process of refining your results.
This example comes from Primo, but the techniques can be applied to any library database. Please click fullscreen to view the example in detail.