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Research Toolkit: Found Too Much/Too Little

Too many or too few search results can be frustrating. Before you get discouraged, try these tips to get unstuck.


Too Many Search Results


 Find better keywords or search terms.
Try different keywords or terms. Think of keywords that are more specific in meaning.

 Use more keywords or search terms.
Start with a few keywords and then add more terms to your search.

 Use limiters.
Limiters can narrow your search by date and source type. Using these can focus your search and give you more specific sources.

 Narrow down your topic.
Think about a more focused perspective of your topic and try words that reflect that. 

Consider a more advanced search.
Most databases search on words in the title, author, abstract, and subject fields.
Experiment with searching just the title or subject in order to get more specific results. 


Too Few Search Results


Try a different database.
Search in another database that specializes in the subject you are researching.
View a list of Library Databases and narrow them by subject to help choose a relevant one. Trying several databases can be helpful.

Change your search terms.
Brainstorm new keywords and replace the terms you've been using with similar or related terms.

Broaden your topic.
You may need to think more broadly about your topic.

Use fewer search terms.
The more words you use in your search, the fewer results you will get.
Begin your search with fewer keywords. Add more gradually, or try new terms based on your results. 

 Use fewer limiters.
Use limiters only if you need them to narrow your search results.