We just received an email on narrowing down search results – “I’m searching for books on the idea of performance but I always get thousands of results which are based around performance meaning how well something is performing such as a business etc. Do you have any suggestions for how I can search for more relevant materials?”
So I thought it might be useful to put the answer into a blog post – as we’ve all been there.
Things to Try to get better search results
1. Change your keywords.
If your search for ‘performance’ brings back unrelated items, try changing what you search for. Synonyms might include ‘drama’, ‘theatre’, ‘performing arts’ etc.
Try adding more keywords e.g. ‘audience participation’, or a particular theorist, theory or performer you’re interested in.
LibrarySearch and other databases have list of subject headings – click on these to find more examples of keywords.
2. Combine your keywords.
Databases will accept certain combinations of words and use them to make your search more effective.
3. Change the database.
LibrarySearch is pretty general – if you’re after items on a particular subject, go to your subject guide and try the Finding E-resources link for a list of more specific databases.
4. Who’s cited what?
When you finish a recommended article, or book, go to the back and take a look at what they referenced when writing it – then look these up and carry on!
You can also use Google Scholar to see who’s cited the article or book you’re reading now – and see what they said on the topic.
Look for the ‘Cited by’ part, and click it to get information on other articles and books.
Try LibrarySearch to get hold of articles or books, and if it’s not there, don’t panic – we can get it!
5. Ask your Librarian!
Whether it’s a presentation or PhD thesis, you can always arrange a meeting with your librarian to go through the subject and searching with you, so don’t be afraid to ask.