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JHP 3151: Comparative Genocide in the Twentieth Century: Understanding Search Results

Page Elements

1. Search Bar

The search bar is usually located at the top of the results page and will let you see what exactly you searched to get the listed results. You can modify your search as needed by typing straight into the search bar or by selecting advanced search for more options.

2. Title

The title of the resource is usually at the top of each result entry and is usually hyperlinked to take you either directly to the item's detailed record or even to the item itself.

Evaluative Note: Often your search terms will be highlighted where they appear in the title. While having your keywords present is not a guarantee that the item will be of relevance, pay attention to where they appear.

3. Other Publication Information

Under the title, the other publication information for the source is displayed including the author as well as the date of publication. Depending on the type of source you might also see the name of the journal that article or piece was published in or the publishers if it's a book.

Evaluative Note: Looking at where or who published an item can help you start to think of the quality of the source. For example, if the journal seems to be related to your topic, that could be a sign of relevance. Likewise, if a university press is listed, it's usually a good indication of a book's quality.

4. Filters/Limiters

Next to the list of search results, there are often features, called filters or limiters, that give you options for ways you can further narrow down your search results if needed. Especially pay attention to filters if you have certain requirements you need to meet like a certain publication range or source type.

5. Source Type

A lot of databases will provide an indicator to let you know what type of source the entry is for: journal article, book, newspaper, review, etc. If the database you are searching does not indicate what the source is, make sure you are closely scrutinizing the items to see what type of source you are looking at and if it will meet your needs.

6. Subject Terms

Some databases will display the subject terms an item is tagged with below the publication information. Subject terms are a great way to skim and see what an item is about and might provide other terms for you to use in your searching. Usually a significant part of the source has to deal with the subject term in order for it to be applied.

7. Access Links

Access links to the item are usually displayed below the item's information or to the right. These links will either take you directly to the PDF or will redirect you as it tries to locate the item within our databases. If you don't see an access link, click on the title of the source to see if you can get to the item that way. If you need help accessing an item, ask the library!

8. Content Preview

Instead of subject terms, some databases might show you a preview of some of the item's text with your keywords highlighted. These two or three lines might help you get a quick glance on if it looks like a source you need to explore it more or if it's doesn't look relevant.


Number of Results

One element all search result pages have is the number of results. Be cautious about just looking at this number and making a judgment call that it's too few or too many results before even looking at the results themselves. Even if you only get two results, those two things may be highly relevant and lead you to other sources. Be wary of making searching a numbers game.

Search Result Page for APPsearch

Search Result Page for JSTOR

Search Result Page for Google Scholar