"Articles" can come from many sources including newspapers (such as the Australian), trade publications (such as Variety), popular magazines (such as Time magazine) or scholarly journals (such as the Journal of Marketing). While article databases have different strengths, many of the same strategies for searching are effective in most databases. Some of the key strategies are:
Defining your topic
Plan your search. Define your topic, identify the concepts of your topic, break down your topic into separate concepts, make a list of keywords, think about alternative keywords (synonyms). Try to break your search into several keywords or phrases and then combine them, as described below.
Combining search terms
Article databases use more advanced search syntax than Web search engines. Understanding how they are different can make your search more efficient.
You can combine search terms with "AND," "OR" and "NOT" to narrow or broaden your search.
Phrase search: use double quotes around a set of words like this: " ".
Phrase searching tells the computer to search for two or more words in the exact order in which they are entered.
Phrase Search will make your search highly relevant, but may significantly decrease the number of results.
Examples: "global financial crisis" "corporate social responsibility"
There are times when you aren't exactly sure how something is spelled or you are searching for multiple words that have similar roots. Truncation and wild cards can help. These involve inserting special characters instead of letters so that the database will search for variations.
Wild cards is useful for searching for alternative spellings. The wild card symbol normally a question mark ?, replace one or more lettersm like this: organi?ation. This will find organisation or organization.
Truncation searches for the root of a word. like this: financ*. This will find finance, financing, financial, financially, financier.
Note: These are examples. The actual characters used will vary by database. Always consult the online help for the database that you are using before using wild cards or truncation.
Another way that article databases differ from Web search engines is subject indexing. Subject indexing is a way of describing what articles are about. The subject terms used often differ from the keywords that you use to search; by using subject terms to define your search, you can find things you might have missed otherwise. It can also eliminate irrelevant articles that might mention your search term but not in any meaningful way.
Subject terms have different names and these vary according to database. You can often discover what they are called as well as discovering some that match your search by doing a search using keywords and then looking at some of your results. Look for entries like subject, subject term or descriptor.