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Electronic Search Strategies

Electronic Search Strategies

Find just what you need by searching more efficiently.

Finding information in resources by electronic means requires that you develop some search strategies that allow you to get to useful information that applies to what you are doing. General searching yields general results and requires that you do a great deal of sifting to get to what you can actually use. By learning techniques that make the search tools do more work for you, you can spend more time applying what you have found and less time sorting through it. Use the links on the right under "3. Electronic Search Strategies" or at the bottom of the page to learn about online search strategies.

What should I do first?

Before beginning an electronic search (on the Web or in a database), spend some time thinking about your topic. Get some background information by reading about it in a print or multimedia encyclopedia. This will help you be a more effective and efficient researcher. Then:

   1. Write down the information you want to find as a phrase, sentence, or question to be answered.

   2. Identify key words and/or concepts in what you've written, and make a list of them.

   3. Include on your list any synonyms for, or different forms of, those words and concepts (including plural forms and possible variations in spelling).

   4. Decide whether you may need to combine several words or concepts (including synonyms and/or variations) in your search in order to find what you're really looking for; also try to determine if there's a related concept or word that you definitely want to exclude from your search.

   5. Now try out the different techniques from the list above to see how your results change depending on the way you structure your search.



Resources: Plan

Information Literacy eBooks listed by Research Step

Information Literacy eBooks alphabetical list

Research Videos alphabetical list

Research Videos listed by Research Step

Online Research Planner (worksheet)

Research Process Reflection (guide)

Research Process Rubric (guide)