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Start Your Research: Create a Search Strategy

Not sure how to find academic sources for your classes? This guide will provide ample resources to help you get started!
  • URL: https://library.park.edu/research

Search Tips

Need help Searching? Check out these Search Tips!

These tips pertain to many library databases including the "Advanced Search" screen of Pirate Search.

Boolean Operators (AND / OR)

  AND OR
How it works: Search results contain both Term #1 and Term #2 Search results contain either Term #1 or Term #2 (or both)
Effects on search results: Narrows /
Fewer results
Broadens /
More results
Examples with diagrams:

Peas AND Carrots

Results = the middle area overlapped by both circles
AND diagram

Peas OR Carrots

Results = the entire area
of both circles
OR

 

Asterisks and Quotation Marks

Using an asterisk wildcard (*) at the end of a partial word will broaden search results by including multiple word endings.

When searching for a specific phrase (two or more words together), adding quotation marks around that phrase will typically narrow your search results.

For example:

  • Using child* will search for all variations of the word child, including children, children's, or childhood.
  • A search on "sexual strategies theory" -- with the quotation marks included -- will retrieve only those records containing these three words together in this exact order.

Building a Better Search

Identifying the major concepts and similar terms (synonyms) for your research topic...

Example topic: "The effects of media violence on children"

  Original Term   Synonym #1   Synonym #2
  Media OR Television OR Movies
AND Violence OR Aggression    
AND Children OR Youth OR Adolescents

 

...can help you construct a better search query, which yields better search results!

EBSCO Advanced Search screenshot

What is a Concept Map?

A concept map can help you identify the key ideas or concepts to use when you're researching your topic using books and articles. To complete the concept map:

  1. Open or print a copy of the blank Concept Map linked below. You can also view a completed sample version.
  2. Complete Step 1 on the worksheet by writing down your topic or research question, and identifying keywords in your topic (you should have two or three). These are the words or concepts that are most important in your topic. They may be a single word, or a short phrase.
  3. Complete Step 2 on the worksheet:
    1. Write your keywords in the boxes provided, with one keyword in each box.
    2. Brainstorm alternate keywords for each one. Alternate keywords could be synonyms, or similar concepts or ideas that fall within the same general category as your keywords.
    3. Write your alternate keywords in the box associated with each keyword.

Create a Concept Map

Create a Concept Map

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