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Two Minute Tutorials (or less)

Revising Your Search: Too Few Results

Whenever you do a search, you should always keep in mind several considerations: ١) Variations in spelling. Even in English, think of English/American spelling, e.g. labour/labor, or theatre/theater. ١) Spellings of foreign names, e.g. Munich/München, Peking/Beijing, Dostoyevsky/Dostoiewskij ١) Different languages. At AUR, think especially in English and Italian, e.g. Italy/Italia. ١) Think hierarchically

In this tutorial, we will discuss how to find materials when you don’t have enough results. In another tutorial, we will discuss how to find materials when you have too many results.

There are two basic types of tools

for searching: 1) catalogs/indexes and 2) full-text search engines.


Each has advantages and disadvantages, but the normal problems are: in catalogs and indexes, you don’t get enough hits (or even zero), while in full-text databases, you get too many irrelevant results.

Full-text Search Engine

First, make sure you are spelling the words correctly.

The AUR Catalog helps you to check your spelling when you get zero, or when you are looking at an individual record by letting you search in

Don’t forget the RESEARCH GUIDES, where you can find indepth help on all kinds of topics. Take a 2-Minute Tutorial on the Research Guides.

To get more materials, you can also truncate your search

terms and today you can do something called “fuzzy searching.”

Truncation allows you to expand your search, e.g. searching “roman” will retrieve that term alone, but “roman*” will retrieve anything starting with “roman,” e.g. “romans” “romanic” “romanian” and so on.

or ~

Fuzzy Searching looks for synonyms in different systems, e.g. Google, or -the Internet archive. There are still relatively few systems that allow this. Some systems truncate automatically (e.g. Google). others make you do it. Truncation is different in each database so you must always look it up: *, ?, #, $. In some databases, these may mean different things. In the AUR library catalog, use *.

Google: ~ at the beginning of the word Search with ~ retrieves synonyms and variants of food.

Internet Archive: ~ at the end of the word

Fuzzy Searching

Understand what kind of database you are using (is it full-text or a catalog/index? Is there controlled vocabulary?) With controlled vocabulary, is there a list of the terms used? If so, use the correct forms. For example, in most English-language libraries, the names of organizations are in the language of the organization, e.g. in OCLC Worldcat, the name used for the Italian army is something you probably would not predict: Italy. Esercito. You can find these forms through the AUR catalog and the Extend Search. We’ll see a couple of examples. You can also take a 2-Minute Tutorial on Using Controlled Vocabulary.

Here we are searching an authority list separately. This example is using the controlled vocabulary in the database Humanities Full Text, where the terms are found under Thesaurus.

You can also find and use the controlled vocabulary from within an individual record.

Thinking hierarchically

Many times, it is more useful to search for broader terms instead of just using different spellings or thinking of synonyms. Using the Extend Search and the LCSH Browser, we can find broader terms. Here is how to do it.

1. Browse the heading. ٢. See that the term used for army is armies. ٣. Click on the term.

Now we can see all kinds of controlled vocabulary associated with the term armies. Click on the term, and yet another box will appear, where you can find the broader term, which here is Armed Forces.

Narrower Terms

Broader Terms

To find synonyms for searching full-text without controlled vocabulary, you can use a thesaurus, such as Visuwords, which you can also search automatically through the Extend Search. You can find all kinds of words you probably hadn’t thought of.

See all kinds of different words for army.

No matter what method you use to find other terms that may be useful, you can always click on the Continue option and look for the terms in the databases of your choice.

Finally, you may want to try other databases. The Extend Search function of the AUR Library catalog makes this easy.

One new possibility is to search Google Books in the Electronic Books Projects. You can search the full text of these books by keyword, but many are unavailable for reading online because they are still under copyright. You may be able to get it however. In this example, a very specific search can lead you to a book in the AUR Library. Here, we want the third item. Click

A box will appear and put in the title of the book and select AUR Library Catalog.

You may find out we have it, and if we don’t you can Extend Your Search into other libraries in Rome.

For more information on Extending a Search, see the Two-Minute Tutorial.

Two Minute Tutorials (or less)

Revising Your Search: Too Few Results See also:

Go to:

Revising the Search: Too Many Results Using Controlled Vocabulary Extending the Search: An Overview List of Two-Minute Tutorials

Revising Your Search: Too Few Results