We have access to an insane amount of information in our databases and catalog. To cut down on the things you do need, or to broaden your search to include important information, we have some important search tips.
Two lesser known search tools are truncation and phrase searching.
Truncation makes a database search for a word stem. To do this kind of search you need to add a truncation symbol. Use * (most databases), ! (LexisNexis), or ? (GIL Catalog) to do this. For example: counsel* will return results including the words counsel, counselor, counseling, etc.
Exact searching forces a database to search for an exact spelling or phrase. You can usually search for phrases using quotation marks "". Searching for "health care reform" will only return results that contain these words in this order.
Three words will make your searches easier: AND, OR & NOT
They're called Boolean operators, and you can use them to fine-tune, expand, or limit a search.
AND limits a search. Searching for "health care reform" AND physicians will ask the database to look for all items that contain all (not just one) of these terms. The more terms you add using AND, the fewer results you will get.
OR expands a search. The search physicians OR doctors requires each result to contain only one of these words, giving you more results.The more terms you add using OR, the more results you get.
NOT rejects results that include a certain term. This is best used when trying to remove search results that you don't want. The search Obama NOT Clinton would remove any results mentioning the last name Clinton that might clutter the results (since former president Clinton also tried health care reform legislation.)
You can combine AND, OR, and NOT to build complex searches using parentheses. For example: (physicians OR doctors) AND "health care reform" AND Obama NOT Clinton