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. Answer the following questions:
Then, try to summarize what you are looking for in one or two sentences.
EXAMPLE: I would like to find articles on the selective erasing of mouse memory.
Using the information in Step 1, list the main concepts of your topic.
EXAMPLE: mouse, memory, erase
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 focusing your search.
*=rodents, rodent, etc.
Add other terms to narrow topic further:
*=erasure, erasing, etc.
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:
(mouse OR mice) AND memory AND eras*
Download this worksheet (with bonus search tips!) to help you organize your search strategy.