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Getting Started: Searching Tips

Effective searching techniques to help you find information

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General Searching Tips

  • Start your research early because it will take some time to find some good sources.
  • Your goal is to find a manageable list of relevant sources that support the points you make in your paper.
  • You will probably want to do some initial or background searching to explore the issues involved with your topic so you can narrow it down.
  • You will probably do a fair amount of reading and will not use everything you read.
  • Research is a process of trial and error. You may not find what you are looking for on the first attempt.
  • You may need to make some "mistakes" and try several search strategies and various terms before you find what you are looking for.
  • Do not type in a question. Choose the most important words to describe your topic. These are called 'keywords.'
    • Good Example: video games and children  
    • Not So Good Example: Are violent video games harmful to children?
  • Always be on the lookout for possible search terms. Once you find a good source, note what keywords or subject headings this resource uses to describe your topic to use in future searches.
  • Academic sources will use a more formal language so you may get better results if you don't use slang or informal language. Example: "children" or "juveniles" as opposed to "kids"
  • Keep track of what terms you have tried, and where, so you don't waste time and repeat your efforts. 
  • Start your Works Cited page as you are doing your research. Many of the databases have citing tools.
  • It's a good idea to not only print, but email, or save an electronic copy of articles in case you lose the print out.

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