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SCPS - School of Continuing and Professional Studies

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

Browse through the complete list of our 100+ databases. Try using the dropdown menus at the top of the page to narrow the list.


Find Specific Information

To find a specific type of material or information, try one of these pages:

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


Research Guides

These guides explain and organize the library's resources. Each one is tailored specifically to a major, class, or special topic.


The Research Process

Break down the research process into 10 steps, from selecting a topic to finishing your paper.


Search Strategy

Not getting the search results you want? Try some of these tips and tricks.


Evaluate Sources

Find out how to look critically at sources and determine if they are peer-reviewed and scholarly.



A guide to citing in APA, MLA, and Chicago.


Get Help

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