Ideally when you are searching in an online database you want to get a moderate number of highly relevant items. This is not always easy to achieve. If you are getting too few or too many results try some of these suggestions.
Too Many Results?
1. Did you combine with OR rather than AND? Remember to combine similar terms with OR (e.g. climate change OR global warming) and different terms with AND (e.g. climate change AND malaria).
2. Is there a more specific term or phrase you can use? e.g. malaria instead of vector borne diseases
3. Is there another word or phrase you can add? The more words you AND together, the more focused your results (e.g. climate change AND malaria AND Europe).
4. Can you limit your search words/terms to the title or subject/descriptor fields? This makes for a more precise search.
5. Can you limit your search by publication year or language?
6. Can you limit your search by document type? (e.g. "Peer-review journals" in Scholars Portal Search or "article" in Web of Science.)
Too Few Results?
1. Did you combine all your words with AND? Remember to combine similar terms with OR (e.g. global warming OR climate change).
2. Use a wildcard (*) to retrieve different word endings (plural vs. singular, Canadian vs. American spelling. For example, climat* chang* to find climat change, climatic changes, climatic change, etc.).
3. Consider using more broad terms (e.g. vector borne diseases instead or malaria).
4. Remove limits such as publication year.
5. Try another journal article database.
6. Look for references cited in the articles you find.