Monday, October 25, 2010

Database tip - advanced searching in EbscoHost databases

Did you know you can use advanced search commands in the library's EbscoHost databases, including Business Source Elite, ATLA, and Education Research Complete?

Each type of search (author, title, subject headings, company name, etc.) has a two letter "search tag" that allows you to search the database through that particular type of access. To run a search, type the search tag in ALL CAPS, followed by the equals sign and your search phrase in quotations.

Each database offers a slightly different set of search tags. They are listed in that database's help file and in the drop down menu in Advanced Search (see picture above). For example, the tag to search by author in Business Source Elite is AU, by title is TI, by subject is SU, etc.

The search tags could be useful when you want to use Boolean searching (AND, OR, NOT) to narrow or expand your result set.

For example, suppose you are looking at the impact of technology on outsourcing from a managerial perspective, and have identified several search terms relevant to your topic. To find articles at the intersection of these subject headings, you could try:

SU="business process outsourcing" AND SU="information technology" AND SU="management"

To run a search for articles on the Pepsi or Coca-Cola soft drink companies published in the Wall Street Journal, you could try:

(CO="Pepsico Inc" OR CO="COCA-Cola Enterprises Inc.") AND SO="Wall Street Journal"

The parentheses here are important - they ensure that the AND operator is applied to both Coke and Pepsi, instead of just to Coke.

At this point, you may be wondering, how did I know what terms to search for in quotes? In part two of this post, I'll share some tips on how to use a database to identify the "authoritative" term to use when searching for a company, subject heading, person, etc.

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