Search Strategy

NACTEL Library Resources logo   NACTEL
 Library Resources
CSIS School of Computer and Information Systems NACTEL
School of Computer
and Information Systems



It is important that you develop your search strategy before using the electronic databases, searching the catalog or the Internet. Organizing your search terms will make your search more efficient and productive, and will save you time. 
  1. Write down your topic.

I want to find articles on devices for human-voice communications

  1. Underline the major concepts in your topic and write one concept in each of the provided "concept boxes".  
Concept 1: Concept 2: Concept 3:
devices

OR

human voice

OR

communications

OR

Search Formula: Concept 1 AND Concept 2  AND Concept 3

  1. Write down similar terms that describe your concepts. Use the on-line thesaurus or index if available.
Concept 1: Concept 2: Concept 3:
devices

OR

products

voice

OR

speech

communications

OR

telecommunications

        Search statement: (devices or products) and (voice or speech) and (communications or telecommunications)

Here is a graphical representation of the search concepts:

devices and voice and communications

voice or speech

not sign communications

Image demonstrationg Boolean operator AND      Image demonstrating Boolean operator OR     Image demonstrating Boolean operator NOT

AND narrows your search - the result must include all terms entered. 

OR broadens your search - the result should include either of the terms entered or both.. 

NOT excludes a search term from your set.
Caution: "Not" must be used very carefully. If you write the statement children not adults you may eliminate articles that contain information on both children and adults. Sometimes the phrase and not replaces not.

  1. Determine appropriate databases. Before beginning a search, you must decide what database, if any, you should use. To determine this information, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What kind of information am I looking for?

  • What is the primary subject area of the database?

  • What dates does the database cover? 

  • Is the database full text? 

  • Is the database accessible remotely? 

If you need assistance finding appropriate databases, please do not hesitate to utilize one of the Ask A Librarian services. 

For a more thorough explanation of constructing a search strategy, choosing a database, running your search, evaluating resources found, etc., please look at APOLLO: A Pace Online Library Literacy Orientation.  (This link will take you off this page. Use your browser back button to return).