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IBSS: Refining your search

A guide to literature searching and managing searches in IBSS

Refining and re-sorting your search results

Limit to peer-reviewed? have you considered selecting the 'peer-reviewed' option just below the search box?

Re-sorting your search results: your results will appear in order of relevance. You can opt to re-sort them so that they appear in date order, either starting with the most recent or oldest. To do this, select your chosen option from the 'sorted by' drop-down menu to the left of your results.

Refining your keywords

Return to the search boxes by clicking modify view (just above your results to the right).

Retrieving too few results? Try this:

  •  Consider whether any further keywords exist on your topic and if so, add these to the relevant search boxes. If the problem remains, and you have entered multiple sets of keyword, try excluding the least essential set.

Retrieving too many irrelevant results? Try the following:

  • Change the search box(es)' default setting from 'anywhere' to 'anywhere but full text'. This limits your search to IBSS records of articles/documents, rather than also searching the full text of those documents. Some 'anywhere' searches may identify lots of documents which relate only marginally to your search terms.
  • Return to the search boxes by clicking modify view  logo (just above your results). Consider whether any of your keywords are of only marginal relevance - if so, remove these and try another search.
  • If the problem remains, consider whether your research question contains a further concept that needs to appear in each search result. If so, add another search box/row and enter the keyword(s) associated with that concept in that new box.

What are IBSS's filters?

  • ​​​​​​​The filters enable you to refine your search results by categories such as subject area, language and document type (types include review, literature review and others). Filter options appear in the column to the left of your search results.
  • Experiment with opening some of the options in the left-hand column by clicking on options listed under each filter heading.   
  • Be cautious with subject filters: they might not help you identify all of the search results in a specific subject/topic area. That said, if you're retrieving an unmanageable number of irrelevant results, the use of these filters can be very helpful (at least in your initial searches).

Combining sets of results

With complicated searches, you may find it helpful to run separate search (each on a different concept/sub-theme) and then combine the individual sets of search results. To do this, click recent searches (just below the search boxes to the right).Here you find a list of searches from your current search session). Each search is given a number. In the top search box, enter the numbers relating to each search you wish to combine along with one of the following: AND, OR, NOT (for example, you might enter 1  AND 2). Finally, click Search.

  • AND: narrows down your search results so that each individual result relates to all the concepts/sets that you're combining (rather than just one concept). In the above example, each result will relate to both wellbeing AND governance. 
  • OR: broadens your search results by listing every single result that appears in either one or more of the original sets that you're combining.
  • NOT: excludes results that include one or more irrelevant keywords. To do this, run a search on your topic (e.g. S1) and then run a second search for just the keyword(s) that you want excluded (e.g. S2).  Then, combine the two sets of searches using NOT (e.g. 1 NOT 2). Be cautious: the use of NOT can be too limiting - an IBSS record that includes an irrelevant keyword may also include a relevant keyword. A manual evaluation of your results may be the only way of excluding the irrelevant ones effectively, though the use of filters or a more precise set of keywords might help.