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Search Strategy Techniques


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University Park, PA  16802

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Search Strategy Techniques


To be successful in identifying the best journal articles, newspapers, reference resources, etc. to support your project, it is important to use effective search strategies in the subject databases. The proper database search strategies will directly affect the success of your search. Remember that searching is dynamic. Commands will vary and change, but search principles remain the same. Your ability to evaluate and modify results will result in a more effective and precise search. The most important points to remember are:

  • search terms often vary among databases
  • computers usually search for matches in words and phrases, NOT meanings
  • searches usually consist of a series of queries, not just one. You will often need to limit or modify initial search results

The search process can be simplified by understanding that common search strategies are effective across many databases. These common search elements described in this module are:


This document was created by Carol Wright, Associate Librarian at Penn State's University Libraries.
Instructional design assistance provided by Ann Luck, Senior Instructional Designer for Penn State's World Campus.

Copyright © June 2001, The Pennsylvania State University.