Successful Online Research Techniques

SuccessfulOnline Research Techniques



SuccessfulOnline Research Techniques

Thehard part of conducting an excellent online search is figuring outwhich words to use. Moreover, these words should be combinedcorrectly to form a relevant search term. Searching techniques willvary depending on whether someone intends to narrow down or broadentheir online search.

Bothphrase searching and keyword searching can be used to narrow downonline searches. Phrase searching is used to find online documentscontaining similar phrases while keyword searching involves the useof a specific word to find online documents that contain the keywordin their title or subject. The advantage of both phrase searching andkeyword searching is that only the relevant documents containing thephrase or keywords will appear. The main disadvantage of both is thatwhile conducting a search, the meaning of words or phrases are nottaken into account. Therefore, irrelevant documents may be retrievedif a word or phrase has more than one meaning (“Keyword Searching,”2014).

Truncationis used when someone intends to broaden an online search by includingmore word endings and spellings. A truncation symbol, an asterisk(*), dollar sign ($) or a question mark (?), is typed at the end ofthe word that one intends to use as a search term. For example,searching for ‘learn*’ will retrieve documents with the wordslearn, learns, learner or learning. The main advantage of truncationis that it enables someone to search easily for several wordspellings without having to type each of these words individually inthe search engines. Its disadvantage is that search results are notspecific and someone may end up with more irrelevant documents thatthey do not need (“Database Search Tips: Truncation,” 2016).

Toimprove the effectiveness of online searches, one should narrow downtheir searches.


DatabaseSearch Tips: Truncation. (2016, August 30). MITLibraries.Retrieved from

KeywordSearching. (2014, March 19). DartmouthCollege Library.Retrieved from