Use the following strategies to more quickly
and efficiently find library/Internet resources. Ask for help at
the reference desk at any time.
Step 1: Clearly define your
- What do you need or want to know?
"Is there a connection between global warming
and extreme weather?"
- How much information do you need or want?
"Information for a 5-8 page research paper"
- Use general library resources, such as encyclopedia articles,
texts, or books to better understand your topic before you begin your research.
Start your search
Books, journals, magazines, newspapers,
and media available in your library and in other Utah libraries
Other Utah library catalogs
Articles from scholarly journals,
magazines and newspapers
Websites, documents, data, images,
and other media available on the Internet
Internet Search Engines
For more help
Online library guides and tutorials
Step 3: Carefully select
your search terms
Use the most specific
words to describe your topic including synonyms and alternate terms, such
as abbreviations and scientific terms.
Is there a connection between global warming
and extreme weather?
climate change climatic changes greenhouse
floods flooding hurricanes drought
- Use Controlled Vocabulary
Database descriptors, the Library
of Congress Subject Headings, or other thesauri gather information on
the same topics together and may contain other useful words for your research.
Ask the library reference staff for help
in finding thesauri.
- Use advanced search techniques
Truncation is used to expand results by instructing the computer
to look for the root of the word and all alternate word endings.
flood* searches for flood, flooded,
Truncation symbols may differ
depending on the database or engine you are using. Common truncation symbols
Use Boolean operators to produce more relevant search results
by combining search terms.
* (an asterisk)
? (a question mark)
# (the pound sign)
The principal Boolean operators are: AND - OR - NOT
- Use AND to combine different concepts together. This will reduce search
global warming AND extreme
In search engines use the + symbol (+"global warming" +"extreme
- Use OR to gather references that contain similar terms or synonyms.
This will increase search results.
extreme weather OR flood*
OR tornado* OR drought
- Use NOT to exclude terms. Use this sparingly as it may remove
useful search results.
extreme weather NOT drought
In search engines use the - symbol ("extreme weather"-drought)
Hint: Some databases,
especially online library catalogs, use AND automatically. For example,
if you enter global warming, it will search for the words global AND
warming, but not necessarily for the words to be next to each other.
Phrase or Adjacency
Some databases and search engines will enable you to search for an exact phrase
or words in the same sentence or paragraph (proximity search).
Search for a phrase: "greenhouse effect"
Use the online help for each database
or search engine for phrase and proximity searching. See Power
Searching for Anyone for more details on effective use of search engines.
Step 4: Carefully and accurately
record your findings
Step 5: Critically evaluate
the information you find
- Is the resource useful, well written, up to date and/or at an appropriate
level for your need?
- Don't waste time on less useful resources
- Remember the Internet is a self publishing medium and contains a huge
range of data, including useless and offensive materials
Step 6: Get
help whenever you need it
- Ask for help from your Instructor
- Use "HELP" screens and other online help when available
- Ask for assistance from the
Library Reference Staff as needed.
- Don't waste time or get too frustrated before asking for help