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Search Strategies and Techniques

This guide will walk you through various search strategies you could use in the library databases.

Choosing the Right Database

A great search begins with choosing the right database, but how do you know which database to use? Choosing the right library database will reduce the amount of time you spend looking for sources.

The library organizes our databases by subject, to make it easier for you to find what you're looking for. If you click on the subject category, you will go to a page with descriptions of each database to help you choose the best database to search. Read the database description to see which database(s) has the type of information you need. The database description will include helpful information about what kinds of topics a database will search and what formats are included (full text articles, video, images, maps, audio, etc.). 

The library has several types of databases to help you search:

  • Reference/general databases: great for finding background information on a topic. These databases will generally search encyclopedias, handbooks, and dictionaries. Examples: CREDO Reference, Britannica Academic.
  • Subject-specific databases: great for finding in-depth information about a specific topic. These databases will generally search scholarly journal articles. Examples: Gale Health and Wellness, Gale Literature Resource Center.

Every database is going to have different sources in it, so it is also common and normal to look in multiple databases to find sources.

If you're ever unsure of which database to use, please Ask a Librarian!