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Oftentimes, students are either drowning in too many results from a search


wondering why they have so few results.

Difficulties of Searching the Literature

Too Many Results

  • Use quotes around your search term (ex: "19th century Ireland coast")
  • Instead of keyword search, use the dropdown menu to select SU Subject Terms.
  • Choose a more specific search term (ex: Instead of Ireland, search "Ireland 19th century customs")
  • Add an extra search term, if appropriate (ex: Ireland AND music AND 19th century)
  • Limit the search (e.g., title, year, type of publication)

Too Few Results

  • Use more synonyms, word variations or related terms combined with OR.
  • Use broader, more general terms
  • Use fewer concepts
  • Reduce search limits (e.g., field restriction, publication date)
  • Check for spelling mistakes
  • Choose another database

Searching the Internet for Primary Sources

A good phrase to use when searching the internet is "digital collections" + (your topic)

Archives & other organizations are digitizing more and more primary source materials every day. These are often referred to as "digital collections."

**Make sure you are using reliable/trusted sources.


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