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 the suggestions below or Ask a Librarian.
Too Many Results?
1. Did you combine with OR rather than AND? Remember to combine similar terms with OR (e.g. physical activity OR exercise) and different terms with AND (e.g. exercise AND muscle weight).
2. Is there a more specific term or phrase you can use? e.g. endurance training instead of exercise?
3. Is there another word or phrase you can add? The more words you AND together, the more focused your results (e.g. exercise AND weight gain AND muscle mass).
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. IOC OR International Olympic Commitee).
2. Use a wildcard (*) to retrieve different word endings (plural vs. singular, Canadian vs. American spelling. For example, exercis* to find exercise, exercises, exercising, etc.).
3. Consider using more broad terms (e.g. physical activity instead of endurance training).
4. Remove limits such as publication year.
5. Try another journal article database.
6. Look for references cited in the articles you find.
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