Part 2: Search Strategies

20 Selecting a Library Search Tool

We’re now familiar with where we find search tools on the library website, and the best bet when you’re really wanting to do some thorough research is using the guides found on the Resources by Subject page.

But once you’re on the subject guide page, how do we select a search tool when we’re faced with a few options?

We start by looking at the search tool descriptions. On the guides, those descriptions are revealed when you click on the information icon next to the search tool name.

Does your information need require scholarly sources and one search tool includes more peer-reviewed journal than the other? Then you might want to try that tool first. Does one search tool specialize in a sub-field that is irrelevant to your topic? Then you can ignore that tool.

Remember when we were discussing keywords and I told you that when it comes to research, you should get comfortable with change? Well the trick here is not searching just one search tool and throwing in the towel. You need to change it up! Even when finding relevant results, different search tools include different resources, so looking in a different tool will result in finding different sources, expanding your research and exposing you to more perspectives on your topic!

If you’re not finding anything at all, even after playing around with your keywords and related terms, then COCC might not have access to a search tool that specializes in your research topic. In that case, you might consider a multidisciplinary tool that searches across a variety of topics rather than narrowing in on a particular focus, like Academic Search Premier or even a free web tool like Google Scholar.


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Introduction to Finding Information by Kirsten Hostetler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.