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Designed for philosophy students, this guide takes you through the Library’s resources to improve your research.

Search Strategies

search Strategies

Introduction to Research

This page offers an overview of the best searching strategies to use when conducting research in databases or online.

If you need help navigating any EBSCOhost database (e.g., Philosopher's Index with Full Text, Atla Religion Database, Humanities Full Text), look below for some example images.

Basic Search Techniques

Basic Search Techniques

Tips for Efficient Searching

Boolean Search Basics

Boolean Search Basics

Boolean Operators & Examples

By using these connectors when doing searches in Library tools, you will achieve the best results.

Boolean Search Video

Searching EBSCOhost Databases

Searching EBSCOhost Databases

Searching Academic Search Premier & other EBSCOhost databases

These still images provide some captions to help you understand how to search smarter and more efficiently.

Entering Search terms in Academic Search Premier


Next, try other ways of narrowing by Source Type or access the PDF Full Text of the article or request through Interlibrary Loan.

Other Limits in ASP and how to access articles

Advanced Searching Strategies

Four Advanced Search Strategies

Advanced Kinds of Search Strategies

There are four kinds of searching options. Good searchers are aware of each one and when and how to use them interchangeably or based on the database requirements.

1. Word Strings:

Can also be thought of as building-block searching. Taking major words or phrases from your topic or thesis, use them various combinations or with synonyms to search databases.

2. Boolean searching:

Uses particular words to expand or narrow your search results. (They are very useful in word strings.)  See a more detailed description in the next section.

3. Changing Natural Language to Scholarly Language:
    (or subject headings and sub-headings)

Scholars don’t always use words that everyone else does. Using language from your class, textbooks, and other scholarly sources can often reveal more resources. You must also use subject headings or at least be aware of them when using databases like PubMed and Medline.

4. Citation Pearl-Growing:

If you find a good and current article, try exploring the sources cited in footnotes or bibliographies. This can help you discover the primary authors who are doing research in your field, as well as other useful resources. As always, be sure to evaluate the resource. You can also use Google Scholar's Cited by feature to discover what sources have cited the item you're looking at, to trace forward in time the topic.


Accomplished and skilled researchers are able to determine basic aspects of database organization using multiple strategies like these. When researching it is useful to understand background information, bibliographies, and the vocabulary of the discipline. You should use a wide variety of tools and use them wisely, and not depend on one specific source.

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