Developing a Search Strategy: Basic

Oftentimes, in web search engines, you can simply type in a question and yield many results. However, searching libraries for information requires a different search strategy, which is detailed below and can help you considerably when conducting in-depth library research.


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Search Strategy One: Develop Keywords from Your Question

If you are searching through our Library Search Box or another Library Database, you want to begin by boiling down your research question into 1-3 keyword phrases that will really focus your results on just the pieces of information you are seeking.

Example: How does a person's diet effect their learning?

In this example, instead of searching with the entire question, you might try entering the important keywords: diet or learning

As well, you can find additional keywords by searching similar or related search terms. For example, you might also try keywords: health or exercise


Search Strategy Two: Combine Search Terms with AND

Oftentimes, when searching for items, you might have a search question with multiple different elements in it. In these cases you will need to combine search elements together to retrieve results that contain both elements of your research question. You can do this with the term AND, which serves to combine to search terms together. As well, you can still vary your search terms to retrieve even greater results.

Example: How does a person's diet effect their learning?

Search Terms: diet AND learning, health AND exercise, memory AND attention 


Helpful Hints:

  • When doing a title search, if the title begins with an article such as A, An, or The, omit the article when typing in the title, e.g. A Diet becomes Diet or the Exercise becomes Exercise.
  • It is important to keep in mind that AND serves to narrow results to those that contain both factors. Therefore, if you are getting too few search results, you may want to limit the number of search terms you use.
  • As well, if you wanted to search for two search terms simultaneously but separately, you can use the term OR. For instance, if you searched diet OR exercise, you would get search results that contained either just the term diet, just the term exercise, or both terms together. If you did a similar search of diet AND exercise, you would only get results that contained both terms.




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If you wanted to locate an articles about how to clone human beings, what is the best way to enter the terms into the search box?



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