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What You Need to Know

Research takes time, patience, strategy, and no small amount of caffeine.  Read this entire guide to give yourself the best preparation for your assignments.

What is a Search Strategy?

A search strategy is a plan that helps you look for the information you need. 

Generally, the first step to creating a successful strategy is to break down the concept that you are looking for information on into key terms. 

Once you have your terms, you can search the databases for the corresponding subject heading/term that it uses to tag articles.  This lib guide will show you how to do that.

One you have your initial list of results, you can use the database options to limit the results by date, type of material, etc.

If you find that the first terms you tried are not bring up the results you need, try a different combination of terms - it can take a few tries before you figure out the best ones.

If you have trouble with your research, contact one of our reference librarians.  They will be happy to help you find what you're looking for!

Search Strategies to use with Subject Headings

And, Or, Not

These three words are referred to as Boolean Operators.  They can be used individually or together to help strengthen your search.  They are often found when you click the "advanced search" option in a database; however, they can also be used in the basic search area.

  • AND will only return results that have all of your search terms.  For example, if you searched for pathology AND diabetes the results will include both terms.

  • OR will return results that have at least one of your search terms.  For example, if you searched for pathology OR diabetes the results will include resources with either pathology or diabetes, but not necessarily both.  This strategy is good when searching for terms that have synonyms.

  • NOT allows you to exclude a term from searching.  For example, if you searched for dementia NOT Alzheimer's the results will include resources that mention dementia, but not Alzheimer's disease.

Using Quotation Marks

Quotation marks allow you to search for a specific phrase.  If you are searching for information on non-alzheimer's dementia, put the phrase in quotation marks like "non-alzheimer's dementia".

Using Parentheses

Parentheses allow you to use multiple Boolean operators together in your chosen order.  For example, if you are looking for articles that are related to HPV but don't want to include results about vaccines, search for (HPV AND "human papillomavirus") NOT vaccine

For More Helpful Search Tips...

Check out the "Using the Daemen Library" LibGuide.