Information Retrieval Concepts


Major Disciplines of Knowledge  - blocks in this course


Information Containers (brainstorm)






Information Finding Tools (brainstorm)






Cost of Information - Fee-based vs. free information resources

v      subscription databases and catalogs available on Library Gateway websites (scholarly journal articles and books required in college research)

v      web search engines & sites (possibly useful background information; wide range of personal webpages; many commercial sites; some high quality information sites)

v      print materials in libraries


Electronic Information Databases and Catalogs

v      Are produced commercially, sold to many libraries, & offer powerful search features

v      Contain records describing periodical articles, books, reviews, dissertations and other sources

v      Some databases and catalogs contain only citations; some contain citations and short abstract summaries; some contain citations, short abstracts and full text

v      Records are retrievable by searching your topic as a subject or as a keyword; you can usually also search by a known author or title; full-text databases allow searching within the text

v      No library contains every source described in an electronic information database or catalog; some sources will be included in full-text in the database or catalog

v      Full text articles and books are available in some databases and catalogs, if the publisher has given permission and if the database producer has paid a copyright fee


Search Formulation and Modification Protocols for Electronic Databases and Catalogs

v      Start with your specific topic (e.g. stem cell research); broaden (e.g. genetics) or narrow (e.g. parkinson’s disease and stem cell research) your search as needed

      Try searching by subject (e.g. death penalty) ; use different words to describe your topic (e.g. capital punishment) because sometimes the finding tool uses a different subject than you chose

      Try searching by keyword, which picks up words in the following fields in the record: subject, title, abstract or text, if available

      Truncate your search term (e.g. famil* picks up family, families, familial)

      Use the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to search several concepts at once

      Use subjects that have been assigned to the source to find other sources

      Use references to other sources which you find at the end of full text articles

      Use help screens within database or catalog