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PHIL 3372: Liberty: Searching

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?
    • Add more search terms.
  • Getting Too Few Relevant Results?
    • Change or remove some search terms.
      • Are you searching in the most relevant database?
      • ALSO, double check your spelling