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Database Searching

In: English and Literature

Submitted By FathersTouch
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Database searching Doctoral learning and its associated pursuit requires varying skills and abilities, several of these abilities including critical thinking, reading and even scrutinizing sources. This work focuses on evaluating and locating resources, part of which involves this discussion post - how to search for resources. Finding the right resource material does not happen by chance, it requires some skilled strategy to ensure the best and most relevant results are gotten whenever a search is conducted, even in situations when the learner is not so familiar with the topic been discussed.
Choosing where to Search is important It is important that learners understand and know where to search for resources, broadly speaking places such as school library, journal databases and or peer-reviewed databases are great sources of both specialized and general information. This sources offer in most situations verified and peer reviewed works that are sophisticated and provide full texted.
Defining your Search Criteria This step is probably the most important when conducting a good search; defining which terms to use as your search criteria (i.e. which right words or phrases in the proper combination are required) is very important and requires giving some attention because if not properly done, can ruin your chances of getting relevant information. The first step in defining search criteria is to create a search statement. This is a statement that forms the basis for the search query that will be run on the databases to retrieve records that meet those criteria. This is important particularly with the reality that a certain topic might have varying synonyms or acronyms within the English language. The suggestion is usually breaking the search statement into keywords, concepts or phrases as the case may be, identifying synonyms, broader terms etc. For instance, if your topic is on Gun Control, using words like firearms, guns, etc. would help, or phrases like gun legislation, gun violence, firearm ownership etc.
Conducting the Search itself – Utilize the features available in the database. It is always advisable to start searching using more general search and then from there begin to streamline and refine your search to more specific needs (Lyman & Hal, 2003 and BMJ, 2002). For example, if you are writing on a topic like leadership, you might want to start with a simple search on leadership. However for doctoral students, you might require a narrower search, for example “participative leadership.” Also from broader searches, learners can use elements such as currency (i.e. date range), Boolean operators, limits, peer reviewed etc. These are usually features available within databases and to effectively use them students need to familiarize themselves with these features.
Refining your search criteria and repeat search Refining your search criteria and repeating search is important to help narrow down broader searches. As learners get familiar with the features of the database they are searching, the search process becomes more linear making it necessary for new words to be included in the search criteria and using these new words to conduct an actual search. Sometimes when search on a topic that has less authorship/readership or available literatures that have focused on it specifically, it is important to review your search criteria to a broader one.
Learning to ask for help It is also important for students to recognize that most databases especially those owned by libraries have help available. The librarians usually have more tricks up their sleeves that they can introduce students to especially when experiencing problems trying to use the various features on the database.

References
British Medical Journal (BMJ) (2002). How do consumers search for and appraise health information on the world wide web? Qualitative study using focus groups, usability tests, and in-depth interviews, Gunther Eysenbach and Christian Kohler, Vol. 324: bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/324/7337/573.pdf
Lyman, P. and Hal, R. V., (2003). How Much Information 2003? [online] University of California, Berkeley School of Information Management and Systems. Retrieved from http://www2.sims.berkeley.edu/research/projects/how-much-info-2003/

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