North Hall Library


Search Strategy Hints

Search Strategy Hints

Start early. Good research takes time.

Think about the different types of sources you might find. Do you want to find books, journal articles, ERIC documents, or web pages?

Select appropriate databases. No single source indexes everything. Use the MU Library Catalog (PILOT) to find books in the North Hall Library. Use journal databases to find journals. The Education Databases are: ERIC and Education Research Complete.

Use keywords and do not include unnecessary words (e.g. of, the, to) or punctuation.

Choosing search terms. Not all databases use the same terminology and sometimes terms change over time. For example, should you use ADD, ADHD, Attention Deficit Disorder, Hyperactive Children, Hyperactivity, or some other variation? If a thesaurus exists, use it to find what subject headings or descriptors are used in a particular index. If no exact subject heading exists, try a keyword search. Examine the subject and/or descriptor lines and the abstract for possible additional search terms. Keep a list of all the terms you have tried.

Combine keywords with And, Or, and Not. Pick only 2-3 keywords or keyword combinations.

Check your typing as well as your spelling. Computers are VERY exact.

Read critically & evaluate the source. What are the writer’s credentials? Is it a refereed journal? What problems exist in the reported research? Is there a clear bias? For more information about evaluating sources, particularly web sources, see Johns Hopkins University's Evaluating Information .

Follow any leads a source gives you. Examine the bibliographies and footnotes. If you found the book or article useful, it's likely that some of the sources used to write it might also be useful.

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Phone: 570-662-4671