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Research Refresher: Grad Students: Research Strategies

Research Strategies + Sources

Think before you search!

  • Computers don't know the context - you do.
  • Computers are literal.
  • Make a plan = search strategy
  • How you construct your search strategy affects your results.

Boolean Operators

Setting the Context
  • Use quotation marks on phrases "green houses" vs. greenhouses vs. "house on the green"
  • Spelling counts! Results can vary: e-commerce/ecommerce, labor/labour
  • Use commands such as adjacency (w/2 etc), truncation, etc. to "force" context.
  • Check the database/system to see what symbols/commands are used.
  • If the database offers a thesaurus or term finder - use it!
  • Fish in the best pond: what works successfully as a subject in one database may not work in another.
  • Take the time to try various search combinations "up front"

Boolean Operators in Action

  • Don't limit yourself to professional jargon, terms.
  • Never search using acronyms by themselves (Search "Certified Public Accountants" not CPA).
  • May use acronyms in search string
  • Be creative - use a variety of synonyms
  • Searching Tutorial #1
  • Searching Tutorial #2

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