Locate and Retrieve Relevant Information-2

PRECISION SEARCHING - From Keywords to Controlled Vocabulary
Learn How to Make PRECISE Database Searches Using Descriptors & Subject Headings

This is a step-by-step interactive tutorial. You will be taken through some actual searches in three databases. You will begin each search using keywords, and then redo the search using each database's special controlled vocaulary term for that same topic. In this way, you will be able to:

  • experience the difference between keyword and controlled vocabulary searching, and

  • compare and contrast the quantity, quality, and type of resources to be found via each method.
THE GOAL OF THIS TUTORIAL IS: to demonstrate the searching power and precision you gain when using controlled vocabulary (i.e., descriptors, subject headings, etc.)



RECOMMENDATIONS: While working on this tutorial, we recommend strongly that you use the Library research workstations located on the 1st Floor of Library North. We make this recommendation because this tutorial cannot account for every conceivable difficulty which you may encounter; however, if you are physically in the Library when questions arise, there are librarians and other highly capable research assistants working there who can assist you in answering your questions and overcoming most difficulties that may occur. We urge you NOT to attempt to work on this tutorial at home; in fact, these exercises make use of databases which are not yet available to you easily from home workstations.



IMPORTANT PREPARATIONS:
  • Let's get started by using this link to launch the Library Web DATABASES page in a new browser window. After you do this, please return to these instructions by pressing the [ALT] + [TAB] keys simultaneoulsy.

  • In the following tutorial, you will be instructed to use the [ALT] + [TAB] keys to toggle back and forth between these instructions, and live practice with three CSLA subscription databases. Any time you can't remember an exact instruction, you can return here by pressing the [ALT] + [TAB] keys simultaneoulsy. After glancing at the instructions, you can then go back to the active database search window by pressing the [ALT] + [TAB] keys again.
  • Before you get started, please press the [ALT] + [TAB] keys a few times to get the feel for how it works to toggle back and forth between two active browser windows.

[If you are doing this tutorial within a classroom setting, the instructor will probably distribute these instructions to you as a printout.]



Now, you are ready to start the tutorial.

  1. Return to the DATABASES page in your alternate window and use the ON CAMPUS pop-up menu to launch PsycINFO (i.e., select that database to display it within the pop-up menu, and then press the GO button next to it). Wait until PsycINFO is fully launched and visible, then do these step-by-step instructions.

  2. Enter these words in the Basic Search Screen box you find on the first page: test anxiety; make sure that Keyword appears in the accompanying grey pull-down menu.

  3. Click in the SEARCH box and examine the results you obtain. Note toward the top (in very small print) the number of records retrieved.

  4. Examine 3 or 4 titles in detail (by clicking on their blue highlighed titles) in order to get a feel for the type of records and the manner in which they are displayed. Also, examine each record's descriptors and ask yourself how they relate to the article's subject matter as expressed in the title and abstract.

  5. Go back to the search page by pressing the yellow and blue SEARCH logo at the top of the screen. Press the ADVANCED SEARCH button.

  6. Type test anxiety in the top box and make the grey pull-down menu next to it read Descriptors (exact phrase).

  7. Click in the SEARCH box and examine the results you obtain. Note toward the top (in very small print) the number of records retrieved.

  8. Again, examine 3 or 4 titles in detail in order to get a feel for the type of records and the manner in which they are displayed. Also, examine each record's descriptors and ask yourself how they relate to the article's subject matter as expressed in the title and abstract.



  9. Change databases by clicking on the yellow and blue DATABASES logo in the top navigation bar.

  10. Choose ERIC.

  11. Repeat steps 2 to 8 in this new database.



  12. Change databases by clicking on the yellow and blue DATABASES logo in the top navigation bar.

  13. Choose SocSciAbs (for Social Sciences Abstracts).

  14. Repeat steps 2 to 5 in this new database.

  15. When you get to step 6, enter as before test anxiety in the top box but make the grey pull-down menu next to it read Subject Heading (exact phrase).

  16. Repeat steps 7 to 8



  17. Exit OCLC by clicking on the yellow and blue EXIT logo at the top of the page; on the next page answer YES.

  18. Now close the alternate browser window (i.e., press [Ctrl]+[W], or click on File and click on Close).

  19. Your exploration uising keywords and controlled vocabulary searching in three databases is now completed. CONGRATULATIONS! You should have learned these important concepts:

  • How to get into and conduct a simple standard search in each of the three CSLA subscription databases.

  • That descriptor or subject heading searches yield far more precise search results than keyword searches.

  • That you can locate correct controlled vocabulary terms for your topic by:
    a) doing a keyword search,
    b) examining briefly the records you find with this approach looking for relevant controlled vocabulary terms (i.e., terms used in descriptors, subjects headings, etc.) and then
    c) REDOING this search as a controlled vocabulary exact phrase search appropirate for that database.

  • ASK LIBRARIANS FOR ASSISTANCE: Librarians are experts at controlled vocabulary searching. Librarians will be happy to assist you in finding appropriate terms and combining them to make precise searches. Often students learn best when working together with an experienced researcher, so don't hesitate to ask a librarian for assistance whenever your attempts to add precision to a search are not working as well as you had hoped.

  • Return to the point where you were before you started this tutorial by following this link back to the Locate & Retrieve Information page.


    Last updated (BC) 8/30/98