I’m often asked for help when students’ searches have too many results: this can be very overwhelming.  I have a few tips for avoiding or dealing with this problem, all of which I’ve dealt with in separate blog posts:

1. Presearch – make a plan before you start to research.  Get to know your topic, and think about what type of information you’re looking for.  Then think about where you can find that information: what type of resource is best for what you’re looking for? (Books, Journals?) If Summon doesn’t give you what you need, what database should you try?

2. Keywords – make a list of the words you’re going to try to search with.  Make a list of synonyms for these words, too.  And keep track of the ones you’ve tried in Summon or in different databases so you know which words work and which words don’t.

3. Use Boolean Operators – adding more concepts with “and”, especially when searching for journal articles, will help you reduce the number of results you get.  For example, searching just “diabetes” will get you way more results than searching “diabetes AND prevention AND diet”

4. Use Search Limits – you want to make your search results as perfect as you can.  There are tools to help you do this quickly!

As you’ve probably already discovered, research is time consuming.  But nothing is more frustrating than getting hundreds of sort-of helpful, but mostly useless results.  If you’re still stuck after trying the above, make sure to ask for help at the library desk!