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AMES 103 Race/Gender/Class: Strategize Your Search

Search Strategies

Search strategies 

  1. Gather possible search words
    1. use words in your assignment prompts and readings as search words
    2. brainstorm synonyms for search words. Example: hunger = famine, starvation
    3. brainstorm broader search words. Example: a broader search word for "hunger" = food insecurity
    4. brainstorm narrower search words. Example: a narrower search word for "developing countries" = Bangladesh
  2. Strategize: Use different words and different search tools
    1. plan to search in different search tools (try several library databases, the internet..etc.)
    2. in each tool:
  • First, try broad searches, such as: famine
  • Then, combine words to narrow and focus searches, such as famine "third world" "genetically modified foods"

(click on image to enlarge)

image of advanced search page, showing how to combine terms as outlined in the text below the image

  1. Combine search words with AND to narrow your search. Example: hunger AND developing countries
  2. Put quotation marks around words to find phrases. Example: "genetically modified foods"
  3. Use OR to find synonyms for words and concepts. Example: hunger OR famine
  4. Option: Click "full text" to limit results to full text articles
  5. Option: Click "peer-reviewed" or "scholarly" to limit results to scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles

Video: How to Use Keywords to Form a Research Strategy

Source: "From topic to search results in two minutes! " by Holman Library is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Learn about strategizing keywords and how databases work when searching keywords.