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GSM 6218: Global Human Resource Management: Overview of Databases

Effective use of Article Databases

There are 7 central concepts that are important to grasp, in order build an effective search strategy in any article oriented database:


  • #1:  If you have a MULTI WORD PHRASE you need to treat it differently - treat it like a mathematical expression, and put it inside a set of PARENTHESES:    For example:  Military Industrial Complex ===> (Military Industrial Complex)


  • #2:  Meaningful use of synonyms - do not search for just one word, to cover your core concept.  Try to include synonyms & unique phrases that are closely allied with your prinicpal area of focus. Separate each of the synonyms with the OR command:    For example:   Child abuse ===> (Child abuse) OR (Abused children) OR (Sexual abuse) OR (Sexually abused) OR (Physical abuse) OR (Physically abused) OR (Emotional abuse) OR (Emotionally abused)


  • #3:  Using WILDCARDS for variety of words that have similar starting point of spelling - do not search for just one word, if there are an entire family of words that all have the same base word.  The ASTERISK "*" is the wildcard to use most article oriented databases.    For example:   Econom* will automatically pull in:  Econometric OR Econometrically OR Economic OR Economically OR Economize OR Economizing


  • #4:  If you are trying to focus on a specific Geography, you really need to search for both the Name of the country / city / region, as well as searching for the People of that county / city / region, and sometimes adding in the name of their language.  For example, if you want to only focus on your topic in Holland, then you should formulate that component as ==> ( Holland OR Netherlands OR  Dutch )


  • #5:  If you have a HYPHENATED WORD you need to search for it both WITH and WITHOUT the hyphen::    For example:  Multi-National Corporations ===> (mutli-national corporations) OR (mutlinational corporations)


  • #6:  Understanding the searching options of that particular database -- if your database has the capability of specifying a unique field to search, try looking for your topic under the SUBJECT umbrella.   For example:  an ordinary "default" search as contrasted against  a subject only search



  • #7:  Understanding the difference between a FULL TEXT search and an ordinary or DEFAULT search -- if your database has the capability of conducting a Full Text search, you will always retrieve more results, but there will also be more fuzziness within the results, since you will be pulling in noise from every instance where your choice of keywords have been used in a totally different context.  If you are searching for APPLE (the electronics equipment maker), you might find hundreds of articles about New York City, since its nickname is "the big apple".

For some research topics, the difference in the number of articles retrieved between a DEFAULT search and a ALL TEXT search these two simple options could be enormous.  Here is a case where a full text search yields SEVEN times the number of results, as an ordinary "default" search:

Gary Klein (Reference Librarian)

Gary Klein's picture
Gary Klein
Mark O. Hatfield Library
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem, OR 97301

Work phone: #503-370-6743

Gary's general work schedule (Spring 2020):
Mon - Thu = 9:30am -- 9pm; Fri = 9:30am -- 5:30pm AND ALSO by appointment at other times.