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Turku University Library

Information Seeking Tutorial

Too few or too many results?

Too few results Too many results
  •  Use broader terms
  • Use more specific search terms or try to exclude very common words, e.g. method*
  • Check the use of truncation and wildcards. Are the word’s multiple endings and spellings also searched for?
  • Check truncation. For example, if you insert the truncation symbol too early the root of a word may be too short and can produce irrelevant results.
  • Instead of searching in the subject field target the search into all search fields
  • Instead of searching all search fields focus the search into the subject field if possible (check the subject terms from the database’s subject term list)
  • Add related terms or synonyms using the OR operator
  • Remove related terms or synonyms (OR combinations)
  • Remove AND and NOT operations
  • Use AND and NOT operators
  • Remove unnecessary search limits
  • Limit your search: by language, publication year, publication type, country, collection

Getting too few or many results is also related to the narrowness or broadness of your topic. If your topic is very narrow (or current/less researched),  it can be that  there are only a few results relevant to your search. In this case it is important to try to think about all the possible search words that describe your topic.  

Source evaluation


  • is the source authentic, original, unbiased and scientific. Is it relevant for my purpose
  • what is the reputation and credibility of the author/producer 
  • does the source contain a reference list
  • is the reference list trustworthy and up to date

The availability of material

  • Is the book on the library’s open shelves collection or does it need to be requested in advance from the storage or as an interlibrary loan from another library?
  • Is the article in a journal that is available at the Turku University Library in printed or electronic form?
  • Is the material available at the National Repository Library (in Kuopio)? Or at other libraries located in Turku?
  • Use the Google Scholar search to find open access materials

Is Something Missing?

If you need a book or a journal article that is not in the library, you can make an acquisition request or order it through our interlibrary loan services! Please note that interlibrary loans are fee based.

You can also try searching the collections of the other libraries in Turku (Åbo Akademi Library, city library, library of the Turku University of Applied Sciences):