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Just Right - Solving the Goldilocks Research Problem

by Meghan Kowalski on 2021-04-05T08:40:00-04:00 | Comments

Image of a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and yogurt with text - This one is just rightWhen you research, sometimes you get WAY TOO MANY resources. Seeing a results list with thousands of hits can be overwhelming. Other times, you don't find enough. So, how do you find just enough resources?

Research may be scary at first but rarely is it impossible. Your first search attempt is rarely your best. Here are some strategies to getting just the right amount of sources.

  • Change your keywords - If you are getting too many results, add a few keywords to help you narrow down the results list. Too few? Broaden your keywords or take a few keywords out to expand your search.
  • Try Synonyms - Sometimes the words you use are not the words other writers used. Go to and track down some possible synonyms and then use those in your search. 
  • Adjust the Search Filters - You can narrow your results by adding different filters like changing the date range, format, or "peer reviewed" options. If you have too few results, remove some of your selected filters.
  • Try a Different Database - Each database has a different set of content. You may need to try your searches in several databases to find just the right amount of results. You can also use sources from more than one database in your work. You are never stuck using the first database you try.
  • Ask a Librarian - Librarians are professionals trained to help you find resources. We have a few uncommon tricks up our sleeves which can help you find what you need.

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