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Information Seeking Compass

Guide to help with your information searching

4. Refine your search

4 Refine your searches

Refine the search

If you get too many search results, you should refine the search. In general, there are very many ways to narrow your search. For example often there are a lot of different criteria or menus in the databases to choose to reduce the number of search results. For example, you may be able to set limits to publication year or the language of the publication.

Refining methods

  • Publication date
  • Fulltext
  • Language
  • Document type (book, article, dissertation etc.)
  • Publication name

and many other methods!

Combination of search terms

Use Boolean operators:

  • AND (narrow) use when you want ALL search terms must appear in resulting publication or document. 

boolen AND-operaattori

For example,with terms students AND well-being you will find information on students' well-being .

  • OR (broaden) use when you want ANY of your search terms must appear in resulting publication or document.

    boolen OR-operaattori
  • For example, search query well-being OR "life quality" OR welfare broadens the search and produces many results.


  • NOT (narrow) use when you want to exclude word(s) from your resulting publication or document.

    boolen NOT-operaattori

    For example, search query students NOT "open university" excludes the last word from results.


Assessment belongs to every stage of the process. This figure reminds of assessment and evaluation in the different situations.

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Narrow options in Janet

You are able to refine your results for example by content type, publication year, language or topic in Janet. The screenshot below shows the narrowing options of the keyword search students AND well-being. Total search gave 198 search results, 161 documents available online.