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The University of Bolton Library

Using Discover@Bolton

Advanced Searching

Performing an advanced search lets us add a lot more detail and filters to our search. It will generally return far more precise, and fewer, search results, and can be particularly useful if you are getting too many results back, or a lot of results not related to what you are looking for.

You can access advanced search by clicking on it just to the right of the standard search bar, which brings you to this page.

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Building a Search

When running an advanced search it helps to build, or plan, your search beforehand. This will ensure that your search is as precise and it can be, and will return as many results as possible. It's therefore worth taking a bit of time before you search and going through these simple steps;

KEYWORDS - Pick out the keywords or key terms in your question or research topic. These will be the terms you want the database to search for. For example in the question 'Challenges facing newly qualified teachers in the secondary education sector' your keywords would be CHALLENGES, NEWLY QUALIFIED, TEACHERS and SECONDARY EDUCATION. 

SYNONYMS - Come up with a list of synonyms for each of your key words or terms. Researchers will often use different words for the same subject, so by generating synonyms you ensure you catch as many different resources as possible. Using the same example as above, synonyms for CHALLENGES could include ISSUES, PROBLEMS or TESTS. 

 

Layout of the Advanced Search screen

Search Bars - Multiples search bars compared to a basic search, this allows you to separate your keywords / keyterms and put them on separate lines. You can place synonyms on the same line; see the Boolean section for more details. You can create more search boxes by clicking the addition sign.

All Fields (choose what to search in) - This allows you to select what field you want your search to focus on. These include searching the entire document, just the abstract, the author(s) name, and the geographic location of where it was published.

AND, OR, NOT - These are your Boolean Operators (for more detail see the Boolean section). Use these to link your search terms together.

Filters - Filter your search results. Filters include date range, source type, and language. 'Items with full text online' is very useful, as this will only give you results that we have FULL access to.

Boolean Searching

BOOLEAN SEARCHING is the most effective way to search Academic Databases. Academic Databases tend not to be as intuitive as other search engines, search as Google, so we have to be more detailed to get the results that we want. You can do this more effectively by using the five BOOLEAN OPERATORS;

AND - You can choose this from the drop down box to link your search bars together, or write it between your search terms in one search bar to link them together ('schools AND funding' for example). AND will usually get you less, but more specific, results, as you will get results back that contain ALL the requested search terms. So a search for 'schools' AND 'funding' will get you results that contain both terms.

OR - You can choose this from the drop down box to link your search bars together, or write it between your search terms in one search bar to link them together ('schools OR funding' for example). OR will usually get your more results, as you will get results back that contain ANY of the requested search terms. So a search for 'schools' OR 'funding' will get you results that contain either schools or funding, not necessarily both. 

NOT - You can choose this from the drop down box to link your search bars together, or write it between your search terms in one search bar to link them together ('schools NOT funding' for example). NOT is used for excluding a search term from your search results, so a search for 'schools' NOT 'funding' will exclude any results containing the term funding. 

QUOTATION MARKS - When searching for a term or phrase containing more than one word, make sure to put quote marks around it. For example; 'mental illness.' Without quote marks you will get results for 'mental' and 'illness' separately as well. Using quote marks ensure you only get results for that exact phrase. 

TRUNCATION - Truncation can be used for two functions, and they both make use of the asterisk symbol *. You can use it;

  • As a replacement for a letter in a word that may have multiple spellings. For example; 'Colour'. If we instead search for 'colo*r', we will get results back for both the English and American spelling. 
  • To search for variants of 'trunk words.' This will search for all variations of a word. For example, if you were to place it at the end of the word 'teach' (teach*) then the database would also search for teach, teaching, teachers, etc.

 

For a more in depth look and practice activities, please see the following Discovering Information page on Leap Online.