An Online Tutorial Taking You Through the Steps of the Library Research Process Phrase Searching

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Tutorial Contents:
  1. Library Map & Virtual Tour
  2. Avoiding Impulse Buys
  3. Size & Shape of Information
  4. Most Bang for Your Buck
  5. Trying it on for Size
  6. Don't Shoplift!


Depending on the database
you use, you may need to identify your search terms as a phrase by putting quotations marks around them.  Some databases automatically interpret your search terms as a phrase.  However, an increasing number of databases like the EBSCO and FirstSearch databases and some search engines like Google assume an and between each of your search terms.  ProQuest looks at two words together as a phrase, but add more than two words together and it will interpret your search as individual keywords, not as a phrase.  Not unless, of course, you put quotes around your keywords.  It can be hard to remember which database does what, so, to be on the safe side it won't hurt to always put quotes around any of your phrases.  That way you will guarantee that those words will appear next to each other in your search results in the exact order you typed them in.

In some cases, whether or not you identify phrases can make a significant difference in the relevance of your search results.  Imagine you are researching the film Sound of Music.  If you search the EBSCO Academic Search Premier database, you will get the following results with and without quotes.

Sound of Music          4,358 matches

"Sound of Music"          954 matches


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