Thématique: Evaluating sources
How to increase or decrease the number of hits
The art of getting more with less and less with more
  • Use information retrieval techniques to
    • narrow your search results and increase relevance
    • expand your search to generate more hits
    Anna’s search on preventing depression in teenagers got too many results:

    search equation = adolescent AND depression

    Which of the following choices allow her to best limit the number of results? (select one)
    Fred is looking for documents on gifted children failing school but his search is too narrow:

    search equation =

    Which of the following options will generate the greatest increase in the number of hits returned? (select one)
    Arrange the following expressions in order, from most to least results:
    (“social networks” OR “social network”) AND (recruitment OR management) AND business
    “social networks” AND recruitment AND business
    (“social networks” OR “social network”) AND recruitment AND business
    (“social networks” OR “social network”) AND (recruitment OR management) AND (business OR firm)
    (Log on to My Space to save your results.)

    Like our two flatmates in the video, you too have probably written queries that generate too many or too few results. In either case, the following techniques will help you.

    If your search gives you too many results, use:

    • more specific keywords with the Boolean operator AND
    • the Boolean operator NOT to exclude terms that are not relevant to your research
    • quotation marks to search for specific expressions such as “insulin pump”
    • filters or criteria in the search tools to refine your results

    On the other hand, if your search doesn’t return enough results, use:

    • broader keywords
    • the Boolean operator OR to add synonyms or equivalent concepts to your search
    • truncation (* or ?) to search for terms beginning with the expression you are looking for (e.g., scien*) = science, scientific, scientist, etc.)

    Remember, each research tool has its quirks. Ask your friendly librarian for help.