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Theater: DATABASE SEARCH TIPS

This guide will assist Theater students complete research in Zahnow Library.

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Database Search Tips

What is a database? 

database is a collection of data that is organized for search and retrieval.  Within each database, an individual record exists.  When a search is performed, records are retrieved.  Records may contain the full text of articles, definitions of words, statistical data, etc.  Each record is made up of several fields, such as an author field, a title field, the content notes field, and/or the subject (descriptor) field.

 

When you search the Zahnow Library DATABASES, you cannot type in a question.  You cannot type in something like:  What is the effect of aspirin on children?  That is a research question.  You cannot type the research question into the search boxes within a database.  Instead, you use KEYWORDS, BOOLEAN CONNECTORS and create a SEARCH STRATEGY

 

So, for the research question:  What is the effect of aspirin on children?  Your KEYWORDS would be ASPIRIN, CHILDREN

Put the KEYWORDS into a SEARCH STRATEGY using BOOLEAN CONNECTORS: 

search strategy=aspirin AND children. 

Type into the database search box:  aspirin AND children then enter your search.

CREATE A SEARCH STRATEGY

All research starts with a question.

To create a SEARCH STRATEGY,

From the research question, extract the KEYWORDS.

Use QUOTATION MARKS around PHRASES.

Use BOOLEAN CONNECTORS between words and phrases. (AND, OR, NOT)

This will create a SEARCH STRATEGY.

For example:  

RESEARCH QUESTION:  What is the effect of aspirin on children?

KEYWORDS: aspirin, children

SEARCH STRATEGYaspirin AND children

Another example:

RESEARCH QUESTION:  What was the impact of the Watergate scandal?

KEYWORDS:  impact, Watergate, scandal

SEARCH STRATEGY:  "Watergate scandal" AND impact

PHRASE SEARCHING

Use QUOTATION MARKS around two or more words that go together, that form a phrase, when searching the databases.

For example:  "Flint water crisis", "national football league", "social media", "Vietnam war"

Placing quotation marks around two or more words that go together keeps the words together during the search process.  By keeping them together, you will find them together, side by side, in your results (in the articles you are looking at).  If you do not use quotation marks, then the search engine searches for each word individually and the result is a lot of irrelevant articles.

You use phrase searching when you create your SEARCH STRATEGY.

BOOLEAN OPERATORS or CONNECTORS

There are 3 Boolean Operators, or Connectors that you use when searching databases.

AND, OR, NOT

AND will limit your search results.  It will focus your search.  It will look for articles that contain both the word/phrase before the AND and the word/phrase after the AND.

For example:  aspirin AND children  This search will find articles about aspirin and children (effects, treatment, etc.)

OR will increase your search results and is used to find synonyms.  

For example, teenagers OR youth OR adolescents -- these are all synonyms

Your search strategy might be:  marijuana AND youth OR teenagers OR adolescents

Remember:  your search strategy is what you enter into the database search boxes.

NOT will exclude a word or phrase.

For example, you might have a search strategy like this:  "National Football League" NOT "Detroit Lions" --this search would retrieve articles about all the other NFL teams, but nothing about the Detroit Lions.