There are a few reasons why you may end up with a list of articles that are not what you're looking for.
1. If you get a list of very few articles, the selected keywords might be too specific.
In this case, you will need to be more general.
Instead of: body mass index of children in elementary school who eat doritos
Try: body mass index AND children AND junk food
2. If you get a list of too many articles that cover too many aspects of the topic, the selected keywords might be too general.
In this case, you will need to be more specific.
Instead of: plants
Try: invasive plants
Another way to be more specific is to put phrases in quotation marks:
"invasive plants" "soft drinks" "body mass index" "junk food"
3. Article authors may have used slightly different words.
For example, instead of soda, they may have used soft drinks.
Investing time now to get relevant sources will save you time later in the research process. Use the results page to evaluate which articles will work best for you.
The title (Box 1) gives you a general idea of what the article is about. The icon shown in Box 2 indicates what type of source the result is - academic journal, newspaper, etc. Publication information (Box 3) tells you when, where and by whom the article was published. The abstract (or summary) comes immediately after and gives more detail on what the article is about. Finally, subject terms (Box 4) tell you what major topics are discussed in the article.
Many scholarly journals use a process called peer review.
◊ Keep your search simple and only search for words that you actually want to find. For example, don't search for "How does watching television harm children's physical health?", because this will look for articles containing all 8 terms (e.g., how, does, harm...). A simple search for [children AND television AND health] will give you better results.
◊ Look at your number of results. The number of results tells you how good your search was. If you get 10,000 results, try being more specific. If you get only a handful, try broadening your search or changing your search terms. Try different search strategies to see which work best for your topic.
◊ E-mail results and citations to yourself. Double-check your citations. Automatically-generated citations (from EasyBib, Citation Machine and even the library databases) often have errors.
◊ Ask for help! Librarians are happy to help!
Be sure to check the FULL TEXT box when searching in Academic Search Complete, ProQuest and any other database where you see it.
This will save you time and ensure that we have access to the articles that you find.
When peer-review sources are required, your professor will tell you. Typically, peer-reviewed articles are used in psychology, nursing, biology, chemistry and business. Luckily, it is easy to find peer-reviewed articles, because many databases have a checkbox that limits your search to just peer-reviewed.