There are some basic search skills that you can use in most databases and the Multi-Search. Knowing these skills will save you time and help you do more effective searches.
For search techniques you can use in web search engines such as Google, see our Google Search Skills page.
Basic searches (sometimes called Simple Search) look for your search term(s) in the title of the book/article and the subject headings. In some databases, it also searches the abstracts (summary) of the article and even the full text.
Often the best way to search is to choose the Advanced search option (sometimes called Keyword Search) in a database. Advanced searches allow you to be more specific. You can "mix and match" (i.e., combine) your search terms, and sometimes you can limit by language, type of publication, or other criteria. [Show me how]
Look at your topic and select relevant keywords or key phrases. See Choosing Successful Search Terms.
Don't type in a whole sentence! It will only work if the database happens to contain that exact sentence.
Use the database "help" screens to learn if your database requires quotation marks around a phrase. If the database doesn't require quotes around phrases, only type in a phrase if you really want to search those words in that exact order.
Combine your keywords/phrases in different ways to get what you want.
- Use AND to combine terms and narrow your search. [Show me how]
- Use OR to broaden your search and find more results. [Show me how]
- Use NOT to omit words from your search. [Show me how]
- Use TRUNCATION or WILDCARDS to find variations on a word.
For example, psychoanaly* would bring back results such as psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic, psychoanalyst, etc.
How to Put Your Search Together
You can combine your search terms by going into Advanced Search and typing different terms into the boxes. Use drop-down menus to specify what you want to search for (i.e., subject term, author, journal name) and how you want the boxes to relate to one another (AND, OR, NOT). Use truncation to pick up words with variant endings.
You can also combine terms in a basic search box using AND, OR, NOT, but you need to type in the connectors, i.e., (cats or dogs) and allerg*
Subject Heading Search
Records in GALILEO databases usually include subject headings. Subject headings use a standardized, specified vocabulary to describe the topic of an article or book.
Doing a search by subject heading ensures that your results will contain a substantial amount of material on the topic you want; it doesn't just mention the topic in passing.
Searching by subject heading in GALILEO varies from one database to another. Generally, you should go into Advanced Search, type your topic into the search box(es), and choose 'subject' or 'descriptor' from the drop-down menu. [Show me how]