Millsaps College
Develop a Search Strategy
Library catalogs and databases work differently than the internet and require some specialized search techniques.  You can't type your thesis statement or research question into a library database.

WHAT IS YOUR TOPIC OR RESEARCH QUESTION?
Write a research statement or question that describes your topic.
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Examples:
Women should have to register for the selective service in the United States.
Do violent video games have a negative psychological effect on children?
 
STRATEGY 1: IDENTIFY KEY CONCEPTS
Circle the key concepts in your research statement
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Example:
Women should have to register for the selective service in the United States.
 
STRATEGY 2: COMBINE DIFFERENT CONCEPTS WITH AND
Write your key concepts and combine them with AND
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Example:
Women AND selective service AND United States
 
STRATEGY 3: IDENTIFY SYNONYMS
Write down synonyms for your key concepts. Use a thesaurus if needed.
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Examples:
Women= female
Selective service= draft
United States= America
 
STRATEGY 4: COMBINE LIKE CONCEPTS WITH OR
Take each set of synonyms from strategy 3, combine them with OR and put parenthesis around them.
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Examples:
(Women or woman or female)
(Selective service or draft)
(United States or America)
 
STRATEGY 5: TRUNCATION
Truncate words as appropriate, being careful not to over or under truncate.
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Examples:
 (draft* will retrieve draft, drafted, drafting)
 
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Put it all together and decide what you will type in the computer. 
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Examples:
(Women or woman or female) and (Selective service or draft*) and (United States or America)
 
If you get too few results; check spelling, use fewer search words, try variations of your search terms or acronyms for your search terms, try different abbreviations or use complete words rather than abbreviations, play with your search terms.  This might seem like a complicated process, but even if you just use strategy 1 & 2...you will get better results.