Developing a Search Strategy: Advanced

The basic search strategies that were covered so far should serve you well. However, many other advanced search strategies exist that can help make you an expert researcher. Below are a list of a few of these advanced search strategies:

Use Limiters

Oftentimes, in different databases you will notice listed below the search box lists of different limiters. These can allow you to limit by format, to limit to only full-text articles, to limit by publish date, and much more. These limiters can greatly enhance your ability to narrow your search results and really drill down to the items you need.


Use Subject Headings

In a sense, libraries have their own language. It is the language of subject headings. Subject headings bring together multiple search terms under one convenient Subject Term. For instance, you may be doing a search for information on Fire. You can do multiple searches of fire, burning, flames, combustion, etc. However, if you searched under the Fire Subject heading you would get results for all the search terms together. However, the tricky part is finding the right subject term to use.

Three ways to do so include: 1. When typing a search, often text appears in the search box, using the text that appears often leads you to the correct subject term. 2. When looking at your search results, you click on the title of a search result and you will bring up your item record. Often in this record, you will see listings of subject terms that you can click upon to lead you to the results of a subject term. 3. Finally, often databases have links to a Thesaurus, this is a place you can search for the official subject headings of many topics.


Truncation or "Wild Card" Symbols

Use the Truncation symbol to search for words with a common root and different endings, for example: "photograph*" will retrieve photography, photographer, and photographs. Different databases use different truncation symbols, including *, ? and $. This is a great trick that saves lots of searching time when used skillfully.


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