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U.S. Mexico Border Studies

Jen Church-Duran

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Jennifer Church-Duran
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Search Tips

A first step to searching for materials on your topic is to talk to experts who can suggest beginning sources to you: your professors and anyone else that they recommend.

There are three useful principals to remember and apply when searching any kind of electronic search tool (a library catalog, a digital library, a database, the internet, etc.)

  1. Consider using reference sources to start your research. Specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, and more can help you clarify and narrow down your topic.
  2. Explore current events or "hot topics" sites, resources or summaries to consider various aspects, terms and perspectives on a broad topic or set of topics to help better define and understand your topic.
  3. A keyword search in any resource will generally point you to great initial resources - but you will not find all of the resources you need this way. 
  4. It is really important that you follow up on your initial searching by:
    • looking at the complete records of resources found to identify subject headings or descriptors that you can use to take the search further
    • carrying out seed research: go to the initial sources and check the footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies to find further resources. 
    • It is also helpful to walk around the shelves in the library where you find initial print sources, as other related sources will be shelved in this area.

Search Strategy Builder

This tool (search strategy builder) is designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases’ search boxes.