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Defeat Information Overload, Narrow Your Search in Summon: An example

October 22, 2013

Information overload. Embarrassment of riches. Drinking from a firehose. Whatever you call it, this can produce a paralyzing anxiety in your research process. We've all been there. Take a deep breath. Look out the window for a minute. Then I invite you to eavesdrop on the following chat session undertaken to help a student narrow their search to get good results from the mammoth 'Articles & More / Summon' search tool on the front page of the Drexel Libraries website. And remember - this LIBRARY CHAT option is available from the front page of the library website, and even from within the Summon search interface (up at the top.) Help is just a click away! Available from 9AM to 10PM on school nights.

(11:56:03 AM) : guest contacted liaisons
(11:56:04 AM)  : Hello, I need help with my article searches. I need articles related to the behavioral model in psychopathology. When I do my search and narrow by date, article, and peer review, I am still getting thousands of articles. I am too overwhelmed.
(11:56:07 AM) hi
(11:56:38 AM) sounds like a job for the 'Subject Term' filters
(11:56:59 AM) Are you using the 'Articles & More' search box on the front page of the library website?
(11:58:17 AM) You are about three clicks away from good articles if you can find that 'Subject Terms/ more' option and get up the little pop-up window with all the indexing from the articles your keyword search has retrieved
(11:59:11 AM) : yes and I tried to narrow down. I also used the health sciences button and used the quick link to PsycINFO. But I am not getting what I need.
(12:00:34 PM) Stick to Summon/Articles & More for the moment.
(12:00:55 PM) PsycINFO is great but incurs it's own cognitive load and it sounds like you could use a break.
(12:01:37 PM) : and how do I get the the summon/articles and more?
(12:02:40 PM) That's the big 'Articles & More' search box on the front page of the library website.
(12:02:55 PM) the default you get when you hit
(12:03:15 PM) : great sorry it's the one i used.
(12:05:42 PM) no sweat
(12:05:58 PM) : when I type psycological behavioral approach, I get 528,651 !!!
(12:06:32 PM) Yeah - those aren't perhaps the most precise starting keywords. Let me look back at your initial topic.
(12:06:48 PM) Try this:
(12:06:57 PM) 'behavioral model' AND psychopathology
(12:08:08 PM) : using 'double quotes like this' would minimize the amount of articles?
(12:10:15 PM) quotes here ( and on Google) force it to retrieve only items with those two words next to each other in that order. Otherwise, without quotes the smartie pants search presumes you included an AND between your terms ... and other times an OR which really makes it messy.
(12:11:09 PM) Start out with those keyword terms and you should get only a couple thousand hits, which can easily be narrowed using that 'Subject Term/ more' filter.
(12:12:18 PM) : ok so I am down to 743 under subject terms filter do I click on article?
(12:12:20 PM) be sure to just select one subject term at a time. If you still get too many hits, do that that 'Subject Term/ more' filter routine again. Each time you will get a smaller result set. This is the KEY FEATURE of this database. Otherwise, it's just a recipe for info-overload and you might as well use Google.
(12:13:43 PM) : I see it gave me lots of terms to include or exclude....ok getting there
(12:13:45 PM) Forget 'article' ... that's about format more than subject. See that 'Subject Term/ more' filter and choose some indexing term that's highly meaningful for your topic.
(12:13:56 PM) Forget the exclude. That's a time waster.
(12:14:23 PM) Just choose the BEST one subject term.
(12:17:06 PM) Even if it's one of the terms from your initial keyword search. The presence of these indexing terms (or tags) associated with the article indicate the article is *significantly* focused on that topic - not just a random keyword mention of your topic.
(12:18:37 PM) : much to look for a good article.
(12:18:39 PM) Choosing one subject term, reviewing the first few hits and then doing that 'Subject Term/ more' filter again will let you successively refine down to just the articles that are tagged for what you need.
(12:18:47 PM) Yeah - you got it.
(12:19:12 PM) : Gracias!!!
(12:19:19 PM) You can always benefit from choosing the second or third checkbox in the first filter as well for 'Scholarly'
(12:19:25 PM) Anytime!