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Database Searching
Topic 3

Keyword Databases


  1. Database - collection of data that can be retrieved from a search

    • Example - Phone book - list phone numbers by last name

    • Electronic databases

      • Much larger, millions of records

      • Difficult to browse

      • Difficult to search

    • Keywords - enter key words into a search field

      • Libraries add a new record for a book

      • Title, author, publisher, ISBM, subject, and call number

      • Keywords search for any matches in a book's record

        1. Google - the contents of a book is also indexed into the database

        2. Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO)

      • Search for an author.

        • Google - includes where author is cited within paper

        • Complaints, authors with same name, etc.

  2. Search Criteria

    • Wildcards - use asterisks to indicate a variety of words

    • Examples

      1. wom*n for either women or woman

      2. psycho* for psychoanalysis, psychology, psychotic, etc.

    • Boolean operations (or, and, and not)

      1. Or command

        • Synonyms - words are similar in meaning

        • Research how alcohol kills brain cells

        • Google: alcohol OR ethanol

        • Homelessness can be living on the streets, hobos, drifters, transients, etc.

      2. And command

        • Search has to match two or more words

        • Example: 2008 housing bubble

        • Housing bubble happened in 2007, 2009, and 2010

        • Too many words eliminates good sources

        • Too few words brings too many choices

      3. Not command

        • You do not want sources with a particular word

        • Example:  financial crisis except the United States

        • Google:  financial crisis -united -states

      4. Quotation Marks

        • Use a search to find an exact phrase

        • Google:  "Too many cooks spoil the stew"

        • This can be very restrictive

        • Google: "financial crisis"

      5. Nested Ands and Ors - using multiple keywords for search

        • You are researching the 2008 financial crisis

        • Google (financial OR housing) crisis (2008 OR 2009 OR 2010)

        • Go to advance search options

        • Looks like it is restrictive

        • Only searching for three key words

      6. Tips

        • Use a maximum of three keywords in search unless nesting ORs

        • If 100,000 sources are returned, then search is too broad

        • Google usually does not reference scholarly journals; sites require membership

        • Databases specialize, especially the academic search engines

        • Academic database - after a search, you can rank by number of times an article was cited




  1. Hierarchies - keywords form branches

    1. Example - Napoleon

      • General

      • Napoleonic Code

      • President and Emperor

      • Writer

    2. Hierarchical search engines

      • http://search.yippy.com/

      • www.quintura.com

      • Professional journals and libraries




  1. Books tend to be too broad for topics

    • Libraries are limited in number of books

  2. Ebooks - websites specialize in distribution

    • Two types

    • Website wants to make money

      • Strong copyright protection

      • Strong control over information

      • Limit what readers can read

      • Examples:

        • Amazon allows viewers to read a couple pages of a book

        • books.google.com

        • publisher.live.com

    • Libraries want information to be available freely

      • Libraries want control over information

      • Libraries avoid Google, Amazon, etc.

      • www.opencontentalliance.org

      • www.ulib.org


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