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DESPeration 101 - Introduction to Research: Search Strategy

This LibGuides will help you approach your research

Shape your Search Strategy

Further questions to ask yourself –

Am I looking for very specific information to support arguments in an essay?

Do I need up-to-the-minute research? Or historical information?

What type of resources do I need to use?

Books, journal articles, government documents?

Now you are ready to consult the library resources

Now that you have your research topic and questions you can begin to look for books in the library catalogue and articles in the library databases

If you need books you will need to use the library catalogue: WorldCat 

If you need journal articles you should go to the library databases.

However, you need to think of words that will cover the concepts or questions that you want to answer in your paper.

First – identify key concepts and terms in your research question.

“What are the behavioral effects of television violence on preschool children?

Second – think of related terms for these concepts

Behavioural effects – acting out, conduct

Television – TV, prime time

Violence – aggression, brutality, cruelty

Preschool children – toddlers, tots, infants, kids

Third – combine terms using Boolean operators

AND – narrows and locates items that have ALL your search terms

Television AND violence AND preschool children

OR – broadens and locates items that have ANY of your terms

Violence OR aggression OR brutality

NOT – excludes items that eliminates a concept

Children NOT teenagers

Look for subject headings that can use the same words in the catalogue and in the databases

WAYS to search - Catalogue

Keyword: searches the catalogue in your own words

It’s easy to do – but you may find a lot of unrelated items

Subject: looks for words the catalogue uses to describe your topic. You will get a more accurate results with these words – the downside is that you will need to find the terms that will match your topic

Advanced keyword: lets you limit to certain kinds of material, combine words, limit by year, etc. You can be as specific as you want using this, however, if you use too many limits, you may get very few results

WAYS to search – Databases

Similar to the library catalogue – search for keyword, author, title, subject, year, etc. You can limit your search as well by format, scholarly peer-reviewed articles, date, language

Subject headings may appear as links that you can click on to find more articles, OR, they may be located in a thesaurus


Once you get an idea of what your research question will be, make an appointment and start asking pertinent questions to help you get the most relevant resources for your paper.