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NSP: Theorizing the Nanoworld

Strategies & tips for locating resources for your research project.

What is a search strategy?

Developing a strong search strategy can save you time when it is time to search for resources.  Rather than doing general searching using Google, we recommend that you search using the library databases.  Searching Google is much different than searching library databases.

One facet of database searching that can be difficult to get used to is subject heading or keyword searches.  Rather than typing a question in and expecting instant results, users need to focus on identifying and using controlled language searches.

Identifying controlled language for subject headings and keywords is beneficial for the savvy researcher.  Controlled language is typically assigned by the Library of Congress and is then used universally (or at least in English) by vendors and publishers when identifying main points and ideas for their books, journals and other publications.

Once the controlled language for your topic is identified, database searching is usually much easier. 

Language used on websites by various entities can often be arbitrary and inconsistent.

Tips to save time, frustration, and discouragement:

  • Don't put a space or a hyphen following "nano"
    • nanotechnology NOT nano technology or nano-technology
    • the databases file these in a particular way and adding the space or hyphen (another version of a space) will yield limited results or skewed results
    • the database try to help with this, see alternate results
  • Try a variety of search term combinations to find that great philosophy angle
    • ethics
    • values
    • social aspects
    • moral and ethical aspects
    • responsibility
    • benefits
    • risks
    • implications
    • attitudes
    • philosophy
  • Brainstorm for different search terms, browse the Library of Congress Authorities for suggestions
    • examples:
      • biotechnology
      • nanomedicine
      • nanoscience and technology
  • Be wary of putting too many words into the search blanks in the databases
    • you can enter multiple search terms using the advanced search
    • searching in databases and catalogs is VERY different than searching Google or other search engines!