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Search Effectively

Search Effectively

  • Brainstorm related terms and synonyms (ex. legalization: laws, legislation, policies, decriminalize).
  • Explore your topic. Use tools like Google, Wikipedia and Oxford Reference for Background Information on your topic.
  • Consider alternate names, abbreivations and acronyms, broader or narrower terms, spelling variations. Example: Netherlands (Belgium), Europe (Amsterdam), Holland (Dutch).
  • Consider a variety of angles for your topic (ex. Geography, Time Period, Population, etc.).

Use Expert Vocab

  • Found a great result? Check out the Keywords / Search Terms that are used to describe it. Try these in your next search.
  • Different search engines and databases might use different vocabulary.

Adapt Your Search

  • Many search engines and databases use facets to adapt your search.
  • Using a facet will reduce the number of search results you get.
  • Facets might include: Full Text, Item Type, Peer-Reviewed, Subject Terms, Publication Date and more.
  • Use boolean logic (AND, OR) to combine terms that describe your topic.
  • Try to use individual concepts rather than phrases.
    • Example: children AND violence AND television not "the effect of television violence on children."

Advanced Searching

  • Some search engines and databases let you use advanced search features such as Truncation, Wildcards and Boolean Operators.
  • Truncation and Wildcards let you to search variant forms of a word in a single search. The wildcard is the symbol that "stands in" for the part of the word that might vary. For example: Microb* (microbes, microbiology, microbial, microbacteria, microbiologist, microbilogists). Other symbols that might be used to truncate include: *, #, $, and ? (this depends on what database you are using).
  • Boolean Operators combine search terms / keywords with connecting words 'AND,' 'OR,' and 'NOT.' Use these to broaden or narrow your search.

Resources to Help with Research

Guide: find scholarly articlesVideo: Cite Your Sources: When / Why to CiteGuide: Choose the Best Info

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