This guide gives you an overview of the best searching strategies when conducting research in databases or online.
If you need help navigating WorldCat or any EBSCOhost database, scroll to the bottom for some image examples.
For instructions on how to evaluate what you find, visit the "Evaluating Resources" page.
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.
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.
By using these connectors when employing library searches you will achieve the best results.
These still images provide some captions to help you understand how to search smarter and more efficiently.
Next, try other ways of narrowing by Source Type or access the PDF Full Text of the article or request through Interlibrary Loan.