Lesson 8. Research Skill: Searching


  • Effective searching must start with a set of questions you need to answer.
  • There is a logical and orderly process by which information becomes part of a searchable database or repository of material.
  • Different types of sources are searched in different ways and are found in different types of databases.
  • Constructing a search strategy requires understanding the structure and content of the database in which you are searching.
  • Constructing a search requires understanding of the terminology of the topic as used by different types of disciplines or contributors.
  • Systems used for information searching on the web have vastly different characteristics, content and lead to very different search outcomes.
  • Libraries contain vast varieties of search systems and it requires familiarizing yourself with the structure of the library website to locate the resources.
  • Searching is often a multi-step process with one search informing how to structure the subsequent search.



After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • identify and define the contents of a database, how the contents were gathered, and select the database(s) mostly likely to help answer your question.
  • distinguish between types of reference tools.
  • maximize the search options available in different search engines to construct the most effective search.
  • take advantage of subject headings or classification schemes when searching and understand how to consider terminology in your search.
  • construct a “Boolean equation” as part of your search strategy.
  • understand what is and isn’t found in “surface” web searches compared to “deep” web searches.


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Information Strategies for Communicators by Kathleen A. Hansen and Nora Paul is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.