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American Culture and Ethnic Studies: Why can't I find anything?

Too Many Results?

Too many results?

-- Narrow your search by making your search words more specific.

Instead of "world hunger," what aspect of world hunger are you interested in? Specific parts of the world or a country? Are you interested in causes of hunger, such as drought or famine?

Add these other concepts to your search by using the word AND to include more concepts.

Use NOT to eliminate undesirable results (for example, when searching for information about penguins, you might need to type NOT Pittsburgh, unless you are a hockey fan).

Let the database help you! Databases come equipped with options that let you slim down your results list. Look on the left or right of a results page for "limits" or "options" and limit by a more specific topic or date.

Not enough results, or not any?

Not enough results, or not any?

-- Expand your search by broadening your search words.

Think of alternate words, or synonyms, for your search words, and add them to your search box with OR. 

For example. cars OR automobiles OR vehicles.

If you do find an article you like, look at the citation of the article to see what keywords the database or author used and try those as search words.

Read through one or more of the links in the How to Talk to Databases box in the other column for more tips.

Need to know how to search or just getting frustrated?

It's not uncommon encounter problems while searching.  If you need overall tips on how to use databases, try the "How to Talk to Databases" box below.  To understand how information gets into circulation, try the slideshow below in the "Flow of Information" box.  Search results too many or too few - try the boxes to the left.  

Good luck!

If you find that you need more help, click on the Ask Us! tab to find your best option.

Flow of Information

Believe it or not, there is an elaborate cycle of information production. Any major event initiaties years' worth of information output. The best way for you as a new student at BGSU to learn about academic library research is to understand how information is produced.

View the following tutorial to get a handle on how information is generated after an event occurs. If the slides are moving too fast or too slow for you, use the left and right buttons to navigate instead of the "play" button. You can also click on the slideshow button  to view a larger version.

(Conceptual credit for the "Flow of Information" goes to Sharon Hogan, as adapted by Diane Zwemer for UCLA library instruction.)

How to Talk to Databases

When you search in a database, you need to use different search words than you would use in conversation; sentences or long phrases aren't as helpful in a database as they are in conversation.

Databases don't always use the words you would use when talking about something, either. Think nouns, not adjectives or verbs.

Lexipedia helps you find synonyms or other related words if you are having trouble thinking of alternate search words. 

Try using one of these Search Strategy sites to walk you through research beyond Google.

Subject Guide

Stefanie Hunker's picture
Stefanie Hunker
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Browne Popular Culture Library
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Bowling Green State University
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