August 29th, 2008

There are no articles on my topic!

We often get calls from learners who have been searching a Library database for articles on their topic and are getting few or no results. When that happens it is usually for one of two reasons: you are using the wrong words to describe your topic or you are in the wrong database.

One tool to help you find other words to describe your topic is the thesaurus link in the database you are searching. It is usually near the top of the page.

When a database gets a journal article it classifies it under different words or categories. If you use those words you will get better results. If you type the word you are using in search box for the the thesaurus, it will usually display cross references to the words the database uses to describe your topic.

For example you want to do research on alternative schools. You put the words alternative schools in your search box and get few results. You look that term up in the ERIC’s database thesaurus and you see they indicate to use the words nontraditional education instead. The link also gives you other related terms. Wow – this is great!

So the next time you search a Library database check out the thesaurus link in the database you are searching. Its a great way save some of your “brain power” having to think up different words to describe your topic!

-Robin

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