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SCPS - School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Tips for Effective Searching

Tips for Effective Searching

A brief overview of search techniques.

Tips for Effective Searching

Be persistent in your searching.

Try both keyword and subject searching

Narrow a search by using subject headings. Locate subject headings by looking at the descriptors associated with pertinent articles and books.

Try these tips to narrow your search.

Try synonyms (AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Can't think of any synonyms? Try an online thesaurus. Try these tips to expand your search

Try both singular and plural forms of words (use a "+" sign in SocSciAbs to search both singular and plurals e.g. religion+). Use an "*" in Academic Search Premier to get a variety of word endings.

If searching a compound word, try it as one word and as two words (e.g. rain forest or rainforest) to see which retrieves the most useful results.

If searching a term with an internal dash, search the term in each database with and without the internal dash (e.g. x-ray vs. x ray) to see which retrieves the most useful results.

Finding Information [From our Getting Started Guide]

Database List

Search our databases!


Finding Specific Information

These pages will explain how to find specific kinds of material or types of information.

Articles & Databases Newspapers Business Industry Information Literary Criticism
Books & Ebooks Addresses & Phone Numbers Company Information Pro/Con & Opinions
Maps Biographies Country Information



Research Guides

Guides on researching specifically for you class, subject, or special topics.


The Research Process

This step-by-step guide will walk you through the research process from selecting a topic to finishing your paper.


Search Strategy

Tips and tricks for getting the results you want while searching.


Evaluating Your Sources

How to look critically at your sources, determine if they are 'scholarly', and what does peer-reviewed mean anyway?



Help with citing APA, MLA, and Chicago style.


Get Help

Video tutorials, real-time help, and contact information for Librarians.