Research Help

Basic research information at your fingertips!

Getting the hang of searching

Much like learning how to do anything, the key to searching for resources is thinking about what you're going to before jumping right in.  Since you already have your topic, the hardest part is already done.  The next big step is searching for sources - and there are just a few easy steps before you're off and running.


1) Broadly, what are you searching for?  (a book?  an article?  a video?  a website?)  That tells you *where* to search, either GALILEO, GIL, or the web.

2) Next, what are you searching for more specifically?  (A book on how bees make honey?  An article about the newest iPad's performance? A video showing how to knead bread?)  It can be helpful to make a list of key words or phrases you might want to look for - and don't forget to think of related words, too.  Then you can mix and match the words to get exactly the results you need.

3) Think about a few other things like When and Who - do you need to find resources that are very recent?  Do you need an article that is by someone who is a specialist in the field?  You can actually narrow your searches using these criteria.

 After you've thought through these things, you're ready to take the plunge.  If you have any questions contact your friendly neighborhood librarian or stop by your campus library!


Quick notes about creating a good search:

1) Don't pick search words that are too generic or broad - the best searches combine search words that lead to something specific!  (If I search for <"Smith"> in Google, what will I find?  Now what if I search for <"Susanna Smith" "Georgia Highlands College">?  See the difference?

2) A full sentence is a TERRIBLE search.  Break it down into the most important words or phrases.

3) "A", "An", and "The" are NEVER search words.

4) Remember to use quotation marks - turn that search word Smith into a search phrase "Susanna Smith" (or "apple butter" or "Falcons football" or "World War II")!


 Here's an example.

My topic is "Females have brought a positive element to the military."

My key words in this topic are "female" and "military" and maybe something like "benefit".

My "related words" lists might look like this:

female military          positive           
woman (women) soldier benefit
girl army good

 So I could mix and match - pick one word from each list and I could get great results from each search!  

OR - if I wanted to be even more specific, I could make a phrase: <"Female soldier"> and then add a word from my third list: <benefit>. My full search would look like this: <"female soldier" benefit>  See how that works?  

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