When conducting research for a project or paper, it is important to develop a search strategy that incorporates searching techniques. The following forms and videos will help you construct a search strategy and will introduce you to important searching techniques that will help you with your research.
Library Instruction Overview. View this tutorial to learn how to get started searching for books, e-books, and journal articles using simple keywords: Library Instruction (Prepared by SAC Library)
Developing a search strategy will help you focus your research and retrieve the best information for your topic. View this tutorial to learn how to develop a search strategy using searching techniques: Searching Techniques (Video prepared by National-Louis University Library)
Understanding concepts of your research question, and how they relate to each other. The Concept Form will assist you with thinking about three concept areas for your search, as well as synonyms and alternative words for searching: Concept Form
Boolean Operator Form explains the three connectors (and, or, not) and their uses: Boolean Operators Form
See also the videos below.
CHOOSE DATABASES TO SEARCH
Click on ARTICLES & DATABASES tab to search for journal articles in databases (indexes) by subject, author, and title.
Click on BOOKS & E-BOOKS tab to search for books and e-books by author, title, or subject.
DEVELOP A SEARCH STRATEGY
1. Choose a topic.
2. Turn your topic into a research question. To help formulate your research question, ask yourself:
· What do you already know about the topic?
· What you do you want to know about the topic?
3. Choose keywords from your research question. Keywords are usually the main ideas or concepts in your research question.
4. Find synonyms for your keywords. Synonyms give you more options for search terms.
5. Start searching! Use your keywords and synonyms as search terms in journal databases and the book catalog.
USE BOOLEAN OPERATORS FOR MORE PRECISE SEARCH
OR = increase your results. Combine synonyms or similar terms to increase the number of results.
Example: groups OR organizations OR associations RETRIEVES articles that contain any of those 3 words
AND = narrow your results. Combine different concepts to narrow your search.
Example: students AND kindergarten RETRIEVES articles that contain both of those words.
NOT = narrow your results. Combine different concepts to reduce your search by excluding some words.
Example: students NOT kindergarten RETRIEVES articles about all students except kindergarten students.
Watch this video about using Boolean operators and search techniques
Video prepared by McMaster University
USE SPECIAL SYMBOLS
Search for two or more words held together (phrase searching)
Example: "United States" or "Culinary Arts" RETRIEVES articles containing those exact phrases
WILDCARDS OR TRUNCATION SYMBOLS
Search for words with any letter or letters in place of the symbol
Example: "wom*n" RETRIEVES articles with WOMEN or WOMAN or WOMIN or WOMUN or WOMYN
Example: "theat?" RETRIEVES articles with words THEATRE or THEATER or THEATRICAL
Example: "business?" RETRIEVES articles with BUSINESS or BUSINESSES or BUSINESSMAN (any letter after the final "s")
Example: "business ?" RETRIEVES articles about business with any word following it, such as "business climate" or "business plan"
NOTE: Database producers may use different symbols for these functions. Be sure read the HELP section of each database.
USE SUBJECT HEADINGS FOR MORE PRECISE SEARCH
Most journal article databases use controlled vocabulary to make searching for journal articles more specific.
Knowing the best subject heading will improve your specific search. Use a database's THESAURUS (controlled vocabulary) to choose the best words for your SUBJECT search.
Watch this video about using subject headings or descriptors
Video prepared by Western University