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Grad Student Library Orientation: Search Strategies

Search Strategies

Searching is more than just typing words into a search. These search strategies and more you'll find on the "Finding Sources" tab will help you be a more effective and efficient searcher. On the left you'll see a step-by-step guide to search strategies, and on the right you'll see a few ways to begin brainstorming or developing keywords. Keywords are important to think about in searching as sometimes how researchers something is different than how you or I might describe it.

Important Search Strategies


A few words about keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that you can use to search for resources on your topic. Typically when searching we don't ever move beyond the initial one or two word topic. This limits your results, and can lead to frustration and a sense that resources don't exist. A small shift in keywords can make a huge difference in results. 

A few things to keep in mind about keywords:

  • Remember you're talking to a computer not a person. People understand relationships and cause and effect. Computers do not. Use concrete terms and ideas.
  • Keywords should be nouns. Stick to people, places, objects, things, and ideas. Verbs indicate relationships or movement or connecting ideas. Computers will not understand that.


keyword pyramid