Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Whenever you are searching for information ask yourself:
- What am I looking for?
- Background information, general overview, very specific or specialized information/analysis
- Where should I look for this information?
- Where you look impacts the types of materials you will find.
- Search engines looking at open web, vs. library catalog, vs. general database, vs.specialized database
- Library resources are generally: curated by people who assume that patrons will be doing academic research
- Library resources will tell you what kind of content they contain.
- There will usually be contextual information about the material.
- Search results on the open web (materials you find when you use a search engine like Google) are not curated by people, and are algorithmically determined, often with a emphasis on popularity and engagement over accuracy.
- You will have to figure out the contextual information and determine accuracy.
- How am I searching?
- Should I use the Simple/Basic search or the Advanced search option?
- Natural language search using key words, or subject term search,or Boolean search (AND, OR, NOT)
- Who is responsible for this information?
- Who created this information? Who published it? Who is hosting it online?
Combine Keywords: How should you combine search terms to find what you are looking for?
- Broad Search
- Search for information using the single most important term related to your topic. Use this type of search when looking for basic background information.
- Specific Search
- Search for information by combining key concepts using the words you have brainstormed.
- Each concept/word should be separated by the word "AND". Use this kind of search when looking for specific evidence related to your claim/thesis.
- Getting Too Many Irrelevant Results?
- Getting Too Few Relevant Results?
- Change or remove some search terms.
- Are you searching in the most relevant database?
- ALSO, double check your spelling