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When You're Starting Your Search:
1. Choose a topic and identify the main concepts
Tip! Concepts associated with your topic are often good search terms.
Example: Massage Therapy
2. Discover synonyms and related terms
Example: Synonyms for massage (as an action, not a discipline): treat, care for, manipulate, knead.
3. Choose the right database or search engine
Example: If you're looking for information about something that happened last week, you'll want to look in newspapers and online news sources (like BBC, CNN, or ProQuest Newsstand database). If you're looking for current events in books or e-books, you won't have any luck because recent information hasn't been published in a book yet.
Think of choosing a database like shopping. When you're shopping for shoes, you want to go looking in a shoe store, department store, or mall. If you went to a ice cream store (like Dairy Queen), you probably won't have any luck finding the shoes you want.
4. Search Strategies: Subject Searching
Librarians have assigned subject headings to books and articles to help us find all sources about certain topics. Using subject headings will narrow your search.
Example: If you're searching "global market," you may see that "globalization" is a subject heading. Clicking on "globalization" will lead you to all the resources that are about that topic. Using subject headings is a way to speed up your research.
5. Search Strategies: Keyword Searching
Keyword searching is the most common way to search. When you are first starting your research, keyword searching is the best way to begin.
6. Evaluate results and broaden or narrow your search
Example: If you're searching for articles about "partially hydrogenated soybean oil" and you're not getting many results, you may want to consider using a related term, like "transfat." Or you could broaden your search in other ways.
Or if you're searching for articles and getting 20,000 results for potato chip companies, you will want to narrow your search to a specific company or brand. Explore the other pages of this guide for ways to refine your search.