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Research Process: Search strategies and Tutorials

Guide to the Research process that includes databases, search engines, and other tools

Sirs Researcher Overview

Proquest overview

Ebsco Points of View

Ebsco ebooks

Extra Google Tips

Search hints for Card Catalog and Databases

Searching card catalog:

1.       Using the library catalog:  keep your search broad…search more than once:  think of key words.


  •  Example: For international homelessness, try just searching homeless and look in table of contents or index for subtopics Use Boolean searches using AND, OR, NOT
  • Examples :  human rights NOT fiction
  • Use quotation marks for phrases    “human rights” NOT fiction
  • Think of other keywords….Green movement OR environment

2. For database searching

Basic Search (with natural language default)

  • Gun Control
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Crystals
  • Anne Frank

3. Natural Language / Phrase Search

  • How does the war in Iraq compare to Vietnam
  • How do wind mills generate wind power
  • “Young adult literature”
  •  “Stem cell research”

4. Advanced Search

- Keyword: “building fences” AND Mexico ; Document Title: immigration
- Boolean: “intelligent design” AND “theory of evolution”
- Document Title: Shiite Muslim (Transcripts only, then sort by date)
- Document Title: “science fair project”

5. Picture / Maps

- Picture: American Revolution (publication: Bridgeman Art)
- Picture: Saddam Hussein
- Maps: Native American

6. Video (click check box only under Audio/Video icon)
- Hurricane
- Blood Flow
- Skyscraper
- Inflation
- Baseball (baseball slang)

Search Hints for Google

Tip 1: Start with the basics

No matter what you're looking for, start with a simple search like where's the closest airport?. You can always add a few descriptive words if necessary.

If you're looking for a place or product in a specific location, add the location. For example, bakery seattle

Tip 2: Search using your voice

Tired of typing? Say "Ok Google" or choose the microphone icon to search using your voice.

Tip 3: Choose words carefully

When you're deciding what words to put in the search box, try to choose words that are likely to appear on the site you're looking for. For example, instead of saying my head hurts, say headache, because that’s the word a medical site would use.

Tip 4: Don’t worry about the little things

  • Spelling. Google's spell checker automatically uses the most common spelling of a given word, whether or not you spell it correctly. 
  • Capitalization. A search for New York Times is the same as a search for new york times.

Tip 5: Find quick answers

For many searches, Google will do the work for you and show an answer to your question in the search results. Some features, like information about sports teams, aren't available in all regions. 

  • Weather: Search weather to see the weather in your location or add a city name, like weather seattle, to find weather for a certain place.
  • Dictionary: Put define in front of any word to see its definition. 
  • Calculations: Enter a math equation like 3*9123, or solve complex graphing equations.
  • Unit conversions: Enter any conversion, like 3 dollars in euros.
  • Sports: Search for the name of your team to see a schedule, game scores and more. 
  • Quick facts: Search for the name of a celebrity, location, movie, or song to find related information. 
SymbolHow to use it

Search for Google+ pages or blood types
Examples: +Chrome or  AB+

@ Find social tags
Example: @agoogler
$ Find prices
Example: nikon $400

Find popular hashtags for trending topics
Example: #throwbackthursday

- When you use a dash before a word or site, it excludes sites with that info from your results. This is useful for words with multiple meanings, like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.
Examples: jaguar speed -car or pandas
" When you put a word or phrase in quotes, the results will only include pages with the same words in the same order as the ones inside the quotes. Only use this if you're looking for an exact word or phrase, otherwise you'll exclude many helpful results by mistake.
Example: "imagine all the people"
* Add an asterisk as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms. .
Example: "a * saved is a * earned"
.. Separate numbers by two periods without spaces to see results that contain numbers in a range.
Example: camera $50..$100


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Joanne Kallhoff
MHS/MMS Library
800 N.E. 9th Street
Madison, SD 57042

Using Google Search more effectively

Tips & Tricks

800 N.E. 9th Street Madison, SD 57042 | Email:Library Director | c2013 MHS