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InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

Database Search Techniques: Understanding Databases

This guide will look to teach its readers a few good strategies for searching through databases in order to improve their research efficiency and populate richer data from the databases.

Understanding Databases

In order to learn new search techniques, it is rather helpful to learn how data is retrieved from the databases so that our search strategies make more sense.

When you enter a search term into a search field box and hit enter, you are sending out a computer coded message from your web browser to the home field site of the database computer itself to retrieve back any data whether it be articles, spreadsheets, or other information, with matching key terms based on your initial search request. 

When a database is searching for data with your search terms, the database will often dump out all the information it could with the matching terms.

This is why when you enter a basic term such as "ducks", the database will retrieve any information that has the word "ducks" in it regardless if the word may appear in an article about "geese". In addition, the database will populate large amounts of data because of the simplistic manner of the search term. This is why it is important to use different types of search techniques that will be discussed in other parts of this Info Guide in order to help specify what data you want the databases to populate and avoid giving you false positive data that may match your search terms but the inherent content of the data may not be useful for your research purposes.