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Writing 001: 4. Search Strategies

Academic Writing

Searching

5 Search Strategies

Once you have some keywords associated with your topic AND you have found appropriate search tools/databases, you are ready to begin searching.  Not all databases treat searches the same, but here are some basic search strategies demonstrated in Academic Search Complete.

1. Look for a phrase by using quotation marks.  This will make your search more specific.  Look at the changes in the number of results retrieved.  Example: engineering disasters   Example:  "engineering disasters"

2. Generate more results by joining synonyms or closely related terms together with OR.  Remember OR means mORe.
Example: exercise OR fitness OR training

3. Narrow results by adding dissimilar terms with AND.
Example: (exercise OR fitness OR training) AND running

4. Once completing a search, scan the results for other terms or phrases you may not have initially discovered.  For example, if you search for the terms in #3, you will notice that the database has the subject "Physical activity" listed under Subject at the far left.  You may want to change your search to "physical activity" AND running.

5. Once completing a search, see if the results are sorted by date or relevance.  If it is sorted by date, you may be interested in changing it to relevance.