Step 1: What are you looking for?
Think, first, about the results you want.
- How specific are these results? How many are there? Are you looking for a single item or a series of items on a single theme?
- What is the type of these results? Have you remembered to narrow results down to e-books using the filter?
Step 2: Be critical about your search terms
DiscoverEd allows you to use operators to improve your searches, such as:
- Truncated searches, which are particularly helpful if you're looking for words with a common root. For example, politi* will bring up politics, politician, political, politicised, etc. The symbol for truncation is often, but not always, an asterisk.
- Synonym searches can be used to find variant spellings, sometimes using a tilde. ~Dostoevsky will bring up Dostoevski, Dostoevskii, etc. Wildcard searches, which can help with words that have spelling variants - colo?r will bring up color and colour. The symbol here is often, but not always, a question mark.
- Quotation marks can be used to bring up a particular phrase
- Boolean operators (AND, OR and NOT) can be used in search engines to include and exclude terms - for example, landscape AND boston NOT Massachusetts would eliminate Massachusetts from the results.
Step 3: Assess your results
Reflecting on your results - why you've found them, and what you might subsequently do to modify your search - is an important part of the process.
- Are the results what you were expecting? If not, why? Is it the search terms you've used, or something else?
Try out a few speculative searches
Think through why a search worked, or didn't work, and what might be done to improve it. It might be that your search terms are too broad or narrow, or that you're trying to find information that is harder to find or access. Whatever the reasons, getting into the habit of assessing what you find, and adjusting your methods for finding it, will make you a far more accomplished user of all sorts of resources.