Quick ways to improve your search

Use these steps, to get better search results, when you are having trouble getting started or not finding exactly what you need.

Be clear about what you are searching for:

  1. Identify the keywords and phrases that are important for your topic.
  2. Use Library Search to get an overview of the resources for your topic.
  3. Find information in your subject area using our guides with suggestions for key books, journal articles and databases.
  4. Find specific information formats, such as newspapers, standards and theses, by using the right search strategy
  1. Look at your search terms. Be more specific. (e.g. "irrigation" instead of "water")
  2. Add search terms to focus your search. Use AND between each term. (e.g. agriculture AND irrigation AND policy)
  3. Restrict your search to a particular field (e.g. title or subject)
  4. Refine your results (e.g. by publication date or document type)
  1. Think of alternative words or synonyms to describe your topic.
  2. Add them to your search using OR (e.g. bottle OR container)
  3. Change where you search. Our subject guides list other searchable sources, such as journal article databases, for your research area.
  4. If you have found one good article check its reference list for more good articles, follow up related articles, and articles that cite your article. You can do this in key databases e.g. Web of Science, Scopus and also Google Scholar.

Search for peer-reviewed articles:

  • In Library Search you can refine your results to show only peer-reviewed articles
  • Many databases also let you limit your results to peer-reviewed or scholarly material

Search for articles from a particular journal/publication:

  1. Go to Advanced Search in Library Search
    1. Enter the journal title and change Any field to Additional title in the first line
    2. Enter your search terms in the second line
  2. Otherwise, search for the journal title, and in your search results, click Available online to see which databases hold the journal. Most databases allow you to search within specific publications.

Comprehensive techniques for better search results

Plan your search

Plan your search to find more results that are relevant for your assignments and research.

Make sure you understand the topic and identify keywords and phrases that will give you relevant results.

Where and how to search

Choose where to search and how to focus your search to find the right resources.

You may need to use different systems and methods to find the information you need.

Find everything on your topic

Find as much as you can on your topic using advanced methods - for theses, systematic reviews and in-depth research.



Evaluate the quality and reliability of your results to make sure they are suitable for use in your assignments or research.

Confirm it's scholarly and reliable before citing it.

Contact the Librarian Team

Get expert help to enable you to quickly and efficiently:

  • Find scholarly or peer-reviewed references for your assignments
  • Identify the most relevant or high quality results on your topic
  • Decide where to search or whether you have searched enough