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ART 100: Prof. Guest's Contemporary Art Project: Tips for searching databases

Tips for Finding Articles

You should always use keywords to search the databases, not sentences. Databases do not understand sentences, and therefore, will not give you the best search results.

   For example, if you enter the following:


The database will not understand which of the words you entered is a "keyword" and it will choose the keywords by itse

You will not get the best results if you search this way. One of the first articles "chosen" by the database for this search is:

This article clearly has no information about the artist William Wegman or his artwork. It was chosen by the database simply because it has the words "wegman" and "work" in it.

Advanced Search and Narrowing Results

To help narrow your search do an Advanced Search. Click on Advanced Search. Enter your keywords using the AND connector. The database will look for articles that contain both of your key words.

Here is an example from Academic Search Complete:

Your results will include articles from magazines, newspapers and journals. To limit your results, use the limit box on the left of the screen. Check magazines, for instance and then click update.  The remaining results will be magazine articles.

Select an article that addresses your research question.

Suggested Search Terms

Search terms, or keywords, are the main words or phrases in your research. If you are unsure of what words to use, just ask yourself "What do I want to know more about?"

For example: If you are searching for information on the life and work of artist Kara Walker, then "Walker, Kara" (remember always use the last name first) is one of your search terms. Also: work, artwork, techniques, themes, etc. would also be excellent search terms (or keywords) to use in your search.