Whether you are searching SOLO, Google Scholar or a bibliographic databases, there are many ways to make your search more efficient and effective.
It's important to choose the right tools for your search. Here are some of the options:
A keyword search in SOLO will return a wide range of books, articles and other papers and is a quick and easy way of finding materials. However, although SOLO is an excellent tool for subject searching for books, it is a blunt tool in terms of finding journal articles and other papers.
Pros of using SOLO for literature searching
Cons of using SOLO for literature searching
A keyword search in Google Scholar will return a wide range of books, articles and other materials.
Pros of using Google Scholar for literature searching
Cons of using Google Scholar for literature searching
Bibliographical database are excellent tools for searching for articles and other papers on a topic. You will find a list of biblographical databases for your subject under the tab "Oxford's online resources"
Pros of Bibliographical Databases
Cons of Bibliographical Databases
First it's worth spending a bit of time planning you search, for example:
Putting your search terms in quotation marks will find the word only when they appear together but not when they appear seperately. Phrase searching is useful for names which consist of more than one word
e.g. "South Africa" or for concepts e.g. "Human Rights", "World War".
If your search terms include words which couuld be singular or plural or where there are alternative word endings search for the stem of the word and add * at the end
Eg child* finds items containing child, children, childhood etc
You will nearly always need to combine different concepts in your search. For example is you are searching for items on child poverty, you'll need to search for child and poverty. If you enter your search terms as child poverty most search engines and databases will return items which include both terms (which is what you want). However, a few databases will require you to put AND inbetween the concepts.
Eg. child* AND poverty will only find records containing both terms.
Adding further terms using AND makes your search narrower, as more terms must be present. It can help you in making your search narrower for example
Some databases including SOLO assume you meant AND if you enter multiple terms. Sometimes you have to select it from a dropdown box. Sometimes "all my words" or similar is used
Are there alternative ways of expressing your search term? Searching for teenagers? Try also adolescents, young adults. To include synonyms in your search join them them together with OR.
Eg child* OR juvenile will find items containing either child or juvenile (or both). Adding further terms linked with OR makes your search wider. Using OR is one way to search for synonyms, singular/plural etc. You may need to select OR from a dropdown box. Sometimes "any of my words" or similar is used
If you combine AND and OR you need to include parentheses around the OR words
e.g. (child OR juvenile OR infant OR youth) AND poverty AND Brtiain
Could your term have more than one spelling, e.g. colour/color.
Some databases search for alternative spellings, in others you have to enter both or use a wildcard e.g. colo?r
You can refine your basic search in various ways, either when entering it or when viewing results. Typical ways to refine or limit a search are:
When viewing search results, ways of further refining them are often shown on the left side of the screen, eg. as on SOLO
You may wish to consider using reference management software to organise and store your references and to format citations and bibliographies in your work.
Oxford supports EndNote and RefWorks. You can find out about these and other free tools in the guide:
Bodleian Libraries run workshops on reference management (as well as many other topics). If you are not in Oxford to attend workshops, you can view presentations and handouts from them.
This page gives you general searching tips, but you will need to find out how they work for your chosen database or search engine. Look for:
Please contact the Library if you would like more help in searching or using a specific database.