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Search Strategies

Search strategies

Searching a library database requires you to break your research question into searchable concepts.  The library databases work different than Google and a major pitfall when searching a library database is expecting the search interface to understand language and interpret your search question. Therefore, you will want to 

  • Identify the major concepts of your research topic.
  • Break your topic into major concepts that can be used as search terms. A concept could be a subject term, technical jargon, or a proper noun. These concepts are usually nouns of one or two words.
  • Combine these search terms together, but only one or two concepts at a time.
  • Run your search.
  • If you got no results; change your search terms or remove concepts from your search.
  • If you got thousands of results; add another concept or develop a more exact search by using scientific terminology as search terms. This will narrow your results.
  • Review your search results by looking at the title and abstract. Is the article on your topic? The title can give you a good indication of what the article is about, but sometimes you will need to look at the abstract to determine the topic of the article.


Boolean Operators

Taxonomy of Periodicals

Library of Congress Classification