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The University of Arizona

Information Research Strategies

Effective search strategies

"Just Google it!" Is this your approach to a search strategy? Many people start with a few words in the ubiquitous Google search box and then find themselves scrolling through page after page of results - that is, if they even go past the first page!

For scholars like you - a grad student doing research for your thesis or dissertation - it is important to go "beyond Google" and instead create a structured approach - a strategy - for searching in library databases.

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Effectively use database searching techniques, including use of Boolean operators.
  • Successfully locate relevant citations and full-text articles in databases such as Academic Search Complete.
  • Use database features such as "My Account" and "Save Search".

Practice

Scan the following learning resources for an overview of the process involved in designing and using an effective search statement.

Note: You will need to be able to view Flash files for many of the tutorials in this module.

  • How to Search Effectively: Review this tutorial to learn how to combine keywords (search terms) effectively to conduct a database search.
  • Mind Mapping Your Topic: The mind mapping technique (also known as "concept mapping") will help you generate ideas and visualize various aspects of a research topic. It can also help you narrow or focus your topic.
  • Search Strategy Builder: This tool enables you to enter your keywords in order to produce a search statement with Boolean operators (And, Or). This is where you can use the keywords you identified in the mind mapping exercise above.

Explore

Complete the Academic Search Ultimate Tutorial.

This interactive tutorial will lead you through Academic Search Ultimate on the UA Library's website, creating a search, evaluating results, retrieving documents and using the citation function.

(By the way - you can also find these tutorials on the library website in the Find Materials drop-down menu under Research Databases.)

Share

What are the top two new and most important ideas/tips you learned from the tutorials on effective search strategies?

Go to Padlet to post your answer.