An Ounce Of Preparation Is Worth A Pound Of Cure: Preparing A Search Strategy


While the various electronic databases may look quite different when you see their search screens, most databases work in much the same way. It will simplify your searching if you develop a brief search strategy before you start searching:

  1. Refine your topic: it really does help if you write down a topic sentence;
  2. From that topic sentence, select your keywords;
  3. Think about synonyms or related words that you could substitute for your keywords;


For example: Is our privacy compromised when we use the internet?

Other terms for 'privacy:'

Right of privacy




Other terms for 'internet:'

Web, WWW, World Wide Web









Types of Searches

Most databases offer four basic ways to search and find information: by title, author, keyword or subject. A title or author search is fairly straightforward, and assumes that you already know either the title of a particular article, or the name of its author. The difference between a keyword and subject search, however, is important enough that understanding how the two types of searches differ could have an impact on your search results.

In a nutshell:

A Keyword search: uses 'natural language'—words that we use in everyday speech;

A Subject search: uses 'controlled vocabulary'—specific words or phrases chosen by the creators of the database.


SnagLightbulb.jpg When doing a title search, if the title begins with an article such a A, An, or The, omit the article when typing in the title, e.g. The Privacy Invaders becomes Privacy Invaders.


 Toggle open/close quiz question

Value: 1
If you wanted to locate an article titled "The Cloning of a Human," what is the best way to enter the terms into the search box?


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