Answered By: Gabe Gossett
Last Updated: Jan 14, 2016     Views: 162

Use Keywords. Use key points or keywords to find articles, not phrases or sentences.

  • If you type "What are the behaviors of people who play online games" into a database, it will try to find every word--and may not find anything.
  • Pull out the main points of the sentence and search for those: put the word in one box behavior and games in the other box (unless there is only one search entry box, then put both in that one)

Start Broad. Start with a more general search and narrow it as you go.  This will allow you to see what is available and give you general background information on your topic and context for your search.

  • Database searching isn't what you are used to. The more words you add to a databse search, the fewer results you get. The more words you add to a Google search, the more results you get.
  • Use the database to narrow your search. Use suggested terms to focus your search. After you find one good article look at the subject terms used to index the article and use them to expand or revise your search. You will end up with new ideas and words to use for a more focused search.

Use Wikipedia. Yes, use Wikipedia. Start your research at the Wikipedia, but don't stop there.

  • You need some background info to start a search and the Wikipedia is a good place to get a quick overview of a topic.
  • Look at the references. Many Wikipedia entries have numerous references. Check those references for more information and to see where the info in the Wikipedia entry came from. 
  • If something in the Wikipedia seems wrong or "off," check the history of the entry and look for supporting evidence in other resources.
Use a librarian.  Librarians have training and experience on how to use the databases.  Use the information to the right to contact a librarian or find the librarian that specializes in your subject area by clicking here.