The results from an online database search may yield too few or too many citations or documents. Consider the following...
Low Recall or "I am not finding any citations on my topic!!"
- Have I chosen the correct database?
- Have I been too specific in formulating the search?
- Has there been anything written on this topic? Is there any literature to search?
- Have I included all possible terms and word forms? Should I use truncation?
- Was Boolean logic used correctly?
- Did I make a technical error, e.g., spelling, or command syntax?
- Should I search free text (natural language)?
Low Precision or "I found hundreds of citations and many are not on my topic!!"
- Delete less specific synonyms and ambiguous terms.
- Use controlled vocabulary.
- Search fewer subject fields, e.g., just the descriptor field, or not the full text.
- Add additional facets with AND or NOT.
- Add restrictions, e.g., date of publication, type of publication, language, etc.