Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

EGR100 (fall 2019): Engineering for Everyone: Search Strategies & Tips

Fall 2019, S. Moore

The Deep Web

A vast majority of the web (90%!) cannot be accessed via search engines like Google. From Mashable.

Crafting a Savvy Search Strategy (UCLA Library video)

Mind Mapping Worksheet

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.

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: I would like to learn about the drug Artemisinin, its precursor (Artemisinic acid), its history, and, in particular, its role and effectiveness in fighting malaria.

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

EXAMPLE: Artemisinin, Artemisinic acid, malaria, role, effectiveness

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.

Artemisinic- acid 

wormwood-plant  Artemisia-annua 

Tu YouYou


role or use
combination drugs
supply or shortage

*=Wildcard; can be used to search for variations

Ex.  manufactur*


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:

(artemisinin OR artemisinic acid) AND (malaria OR plasmodium) 

Get help with Science Research

Top Science majors at Smith College

Charlotte Knight is no longer with Smith College Libraries.
Please use Ask Us to contact other research librarians.

Explore Help