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Information Retrieval Guide



For being a savvy online searcher is to use common search techniques that you can apply the most of databases, including article databases and online catalogs. 



Truncation can be used to broaden your search and include different spellings, example: child* = child, childs, children, childrens, childhood.

Truncation symbols may vary by database; common symbols include: *, ?, or #.



You can use the search operators AND, OR and NOT to combine search terms resulting more focused and productive results. These are the most commonly known and used operators.

Sometimes you don't need to type in the Boolean operators yourself because they can be found in between the search fields, like in Centria-Finna.


  • All search terms must be present in the resulting records.
  • Narrow the number of results.



  • Can be used to include different spellings and translations or synonyms in the search.
  • Any of search terms can be present in the resulting records.
  • Increases the number of results.


  • Telling the database to ignore concepts that may be implied by your search terms.
  • Limit the number of results. 



 When you want to search an exact phrase then use quotation marks around the searching words. Words inside quotation marks can also be truncated in most databases.

"supply chain"



Too many results?

  • Use more specific search terms and use AND operator between the terms
  • Use subject headings instead of keywords 
  • Use limiters
  • Search for an exact phraseS
  • Search in specific search fields
  • Narrow your search by publication time and language

Too few or no results?

  • Look for new search terms
  • Use synonyms and use OR operator between the terms
  • Check / use truncations and move ti to the left
  • Use suggested keywords
  • Try to make your search less precise

Search tips

Video: Clark, Sarah 2016. Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies