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Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 7
DEVELOPING SEARCH STRATEGIES
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image of a computer   Online Search Tools like databases require the use of specific types of searching techniques.

Knowing these techniques will make your online research time more effective and productive.


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SEARCH TIPS FOR USING DATABASES
In addition to the search techniques offered in Unit 4, the following tips should prove useful when searching the libraries' databases.

•  Read the online help and search tips whenever using a database that you do not understand fully.
•  Do not limit your searches to full text.
-- Although this option is tempting, most items are not available full text.
-- Also, many publishers place embargoes (waiting periods) on periodical articles and do not put the articles online until they have been available in print for specific time periods, which range from a few weeks to many months.
•  Limit searches, when possible, by type of resource (popular, scholarly, etc.) and/or by document type (article, editorial, review, etc.) to locate items that best fit your information need.
•  Use keyword searches because they are often more productive than subject term searches due to the restrictions imposed by controlled vocabularies.
•  Look for an online thesaurus or subject term list in the database to help you determine search terms.
•  Use the subject headings that appear in article records as search terms.
•  Look at the complete records for all items that sound promising. Gather ideas from the records to use when creating other searches or use the links in the records to conduct searches.
•  Watch for bibliographies or suggested readings that may accompany articles.
•  Spell search terms correctly because database search technologies require precision.
•  Email relevant search results to yourself when possible.
•  Collect all necessary bibliographic information as you research.
•  Use the "print" key inside the database's interface to gain access to print choices not available if you use the browser's print key.
•  Use the navigational buttons that are part of the database's interface instead of the ones for your web browser's interface. Many databases are not designed to work with browser buttons.

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Updated 8/2004