Skip to main content
got ?'s chat | text | email | phone Smith College LibrariesResearchHelpLibrary ServicesAbout the LibrariesLibraries & Collections

MTH105 Discovering Mathematics: Math as Art: Search Tips

Spring 2010, P. Sipe

Help With Citation

Select a standard citation style and document sources correctly and consistently.

Search Tips

Whether you are searching for books in the Five College Library Catalog, or searching for scholarly articles in a library database, it pays to be organized as you start your search.  Break down searching into a three step process.

STEP 1
Write down as much information about your topic as possible. (You can use Encyclopedias and other reference books to help gather background information). Answer the following questions:

  • What is your topic?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What do you know? What don't you know?

Then, try to summarize what you are looking for in one or two sentences.

EXAMPLE: How

STEP 2
Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.

EXAMPLE: w

STEP 3
Now create a list of synonyms of your key concepts. Think broadly, think narrowly! This step is helping you expand your search by expressing your query in a variety of ways. If you get too many results, then you can work on focussing your search.

 

women

female

 

r

 

s

 

You will use the word lists you developed in Step 3 to create search strategies. Use "OR" between synonyms and "AND" between concepts. For instance:

( OR ) AND ( OR ) AND

Download this worksheet (with bonus search tips!) to help you organize your search strategy.

Need Help?


Contact Josephine Hernandez, jhernand@smith.edu or x2885 with your questions.

Chat requires JavaScript.

Or use Ask a Librarian! to live (chat) during Reference Desk hours.

Comments & Feedback

Click here to provide feedback on this library session and follow up with any questions about topics covered in the class.