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Library and Information Science

Too many results?


  • more specific, precise search terms
  • phrase search
  • add more search terms
  • use filters like source type, year etc.
  • use the database controlled vocabulary
  • field search, e.g. in keyword or subject field

Too few results?


  • other search terms
  • broader, more general search terms
  • truncation
  • "OR-searches"
  • use no filters
  • another database

Search tips - basic search

You will find more about the information search process, search techniques, and search strategies in this section and on the page Search tips - advanced search.

The information searching process

When you are searching for information for different tasks, you will have to switch between different search techniques and search strategies depending on the context and which phase of the search process you are in. A good method is to initially make simpler, somewhat unsystematic test searches in different databases and other search tools in order to get an overview of the subject, of the terminology, and of the information sources relevant to the field.

Gradually, you move on to what we can call the actual search, when you search in a more structured way with the terms and search tools that you have found most relevant. In this phase, you should use more advanced search technology and certain search strategies. It is likely that you will have to switch between unsystematic and structured searches at different stages of the search process.

You will find information on search strategies at the page Search tips - advanced search in this guide.

Combining search terms with Boolean operators

In most databases and in search tools like Primo and Google, you can use the so called Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT when combining search terms.

consumer AND attitudes       csr OR corporate social responsibility fashion NOT children's

When you combine terms with AND, all your terms will appear in every item of the results.
For each term you add with AND, you will get
fewer and more specific results.
In most databases, as well as in Primo and Google, AND can be replaced by blank space.
consumer attitudes
will give the same results as
consumer AND attitudes

If you combine terms with OR, at least one of the terms will appear in each item of the results.
For each term you add with OR, you get more hits.
Use OR when you are searching for synonyms,
related terms, acronyms, and words with different spellings.

You can exclude words in your search by using the operator NOT.
Use it with care, as there is a risk that good results are excluded.




By using truncation, you can search the root of a word and cover any ending of the root word. The truncation symbol is an asterisk.
Example: cloth* gives a hit on cloth, clothed, clothes, clothing

  • Truncation increases the number of results

Phrase searching

Use phrase searches when you want to search for a string of words together and in an exact order.

Example: "product development"

  • Phrase searches reduce the number of results

Field searching

Field searching can help you to narrow your search and get fewer and more subject specific results.

Google Translate Widget

The search process

Illustration from Jönköping University Library, inspired by Saunders, Mark, Lewis, Philip & Thornhill, Adran (2007).

Search tips

This film gives you tips on basic search techniques and what to think about when choosing keywords.

A film from Lunds University Library
(4:24 min.)