Information can be found in a variety of formats and sources. It is not difficult to find information, but it can be difficult to find useful information. Information is useful if it answers your research question or provides information on your topic. Useful information is appropriate for your assignment and is from a reliable source.
When working on a research project, you'll want to search in a variety of sources to be sure that you don't miss a useful book, article, or web resource. Use the navigation bar to the left for help finding information on a variety of sources including:
When searching for materials in electronic resources and databases, it's a good idea to use effective searching techniques to get the most out of your time and efforts. You don't want to waste your time gathering a bunch of irrelevant information that you can't use in your paper. Use these search strategies to help you find useful information quickly and effectively. Find out more about these techniques on the following pages.
Many databases allow users to limit their search results by certain criteria. These options are often located somewhere on the database search page or results list as drop down menus or check boxes. Some common and useful limiters include: date of publication, material type, full text, and more. For more information on using limiters in databases, check out Limits in Database Searching.
Boolean searching helps find search results faster and with more precision. The most common Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT. These are logic-based words that help search engines narrow down or broaden search results.
The Boolean operator AND tells a search engine that you want to find information about two (or more) search terms. For example, cats and dogs. This will narrow down your search results because the search engine will only bring back results that include both search terms.
The Boolean operator OR tells the search engine that you want to find information about either search term you've entered. For example, cats or felines. This will broaden your search results because the search engine will bring back any results that have either search term in them.
The Boolean operator NOT tells the search engine that you want to find information about the first search term, but nothing about the second. For example, cats not dogs. This will narrow down your research results because the search engine will bring back only resources about the first search term (cats), but exclude any resources that include the second search term (dogs).
Using quotation marks for phrase searching is an important search tip because it will help to ensure that the results you get back in a search engine are accurate. When you search for a phrase like corporate social responsibility the search engine will bring back any results that have those words in them. However, if you put quotation marks around the phrase,"corporate social responsibility", the search engine will only bring back results that have those words in them exactly in the order you have them printed. For more information, check out Looking for a Specific Phrase? Use Quotation Marks.
Use a keyword search to search all parts of a source for the words you enter in the search box. This type of searching uses "natural language" and is one you're probably already familiar with--you simply enter words or phrases into a search box that you think are relevant to your topic. When doing a keyword search it's a good idea to try a number of different search terms and phrases. For example, if you are looking for information about cellphone use you might want to try entering the keywords "cellphone use", but you could also try entering "mobile phone use", "track phone use", etc. to get better, more thorough results.
Subject searching allows you to search by categories, which are found in the subject field of an item record. Subject terms are pre-defined and used for all items within a database or source that relate to that term. Using subject searching can allow you to find similar sources, but sometimes can be difficult to use if the term associated with a subject isn't obvious.
For more information on keyword and subject searching, check out Keyword Searching vs. Subject Searching
*Another good search tip is to let one good book or article lead you to others. Scholarly publications almost always have bibliographies or lists of works cited. Explore these! If the original source is useful to you, works used by the author may be valuable, too.