A new semester beyond Google (I)
Anna is studying for a University Master's Degree in Learning Difficulties and Language Disorders at the UOC. She has started her first continuous assessment test and needs to look for very specific information about the symptoms of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Her first thought has been to google it: she has written "ADHD symptoms" in the Web's most famous search engine. However, the sheer volume of search results does not help her get what she wants: Anna has got almost 500,000 results, with varying degrees of reliability. Her mouse scroll wheel scurries up and down. Sifting information from among half a million results is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Looking for a beacon in the midst of the infoxication
Faced with this information overload, Anna decides to use the UOC Library's search engine. First, she uses the simple search and tries writing: ADHD symptoms (504 results). This means that she gets all of the resources in the Library's catalogue related with this subject, from books or electronic resources to documents in the institutional repository (digital publications by the UOC's members).
Even so, Anna needs to narrow down the results further and clicks on the "Advanced search" button. And so she starts to play with the search terms: by putting inverted commas before and after the phrase, she gets the resources that obtain the exact phrase "ADHD symptoms". She then looks at the drop-down menu in the top-right corner, with the words AND, OR and NOT. These are the Boolean operators. These are useful connectors for defining relationships between the search subjects. They are convenient for her because they allow her to use both the term ADHD and attention deficit and, at the same time (as she is interested in the disorder's symptoms in children) exclude adults from the search: ((adhd symptoms) OR (attention deficit symptoms)) NOT (adults).
In the “Show the type of content” option, she chooses journal articles and e-books, she chooses the language and, as she wants to read the content now, she marks the “Items with the full text online” option. To conclude, she chooses the preference "Include results from outside your library's collection", which will also show resources from publishers and providers outside of the Library.
Searching for specialized information
Anna is pretty satisfied with the search, but she wants to find sources that are specialized in her assignment's subject. The Subjects menu on the Library's home page offers resources grouped by subject, in her case, in psychology. Her favourites are the databases, such as the Educational Resources Information Center, with more than 1.4 million bibliographic records on education. In addition, you can always use Bibliographic Services, which will guide you on how to do searches so that you get relevant, satisfactory results.
With her knowledge of performing searches and using the subject resources, this UOC student has all the tools she needs to travel the road to academic success.