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Research & Applications MSED/MSOD

Strategies and tips for locating resources for your literature review 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.

Using Databases to Discover Keywords

The article databases that the library provides access to also provides a source for discovering search terms.  Only rarely is the language used in the database as subject headings different.  Specialty topics, such as those provided by the National Library of Medicine, can occasionally be different, but those differences are rare.

Each database will have a subject list, thesaurus or index that is provided to aid in searching. Depending on the database and the type of list that it provides, searching can vary, but is fairly consistent.

Watch the video on the left for searching tips.

If you have trouble searching for and finding subject terms, please ask your instructor or one of our librarians for help!