Monday, February 21, 2011

When it Comes to Article Searching ... It's Location, Location, Location!

A couple weeks ago, I taught a library session for a section of Nonverbal Communication. As those of you who have been to one of my sessions know, I usually work through a sample search and this session was no different. The sample search in this class was "the role of gaze in the courtroom setting" and we looked in the PsycINFO database for peer review articles.

So I'm going through the usual brainstorming synonyms exercise (the point in my session where I ask students to think of all of the possible ways to express the sample topic) and a student mentions that a possible search term could be "trial". That's perfectly logical term. It makes good sense. Except...we're searching in a psychology database. So I showed the class what happens when we add trial to our search. Wouldn't you know we doubled our results...but most of those new results had nothing to do with the justice system and had everything to do with animal and human behavior therapy experiments. Not quite what we need.

So when it comes to finding articles in a database, where you are matters as much as what you search :-)