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Tips for Getting Started

Read this BEFORE you begin in order to increase the accuracy and productivity of your web search.


 1. Think about the words you are using to search!
  • Use nouns - the more specific the better!
  • You need context – a basic understanding and overview of your topic. As you search, look for new words, synonyms, phrases, related terms and names or organizations.
  • Use subject headings found in the library databases for new vocabulary and to help you understand broader and narrower topics.
  • Use Clusty (, or Hakia (  They are search engines that offer subject headings, groupings by subtopics and categories, and by types of information.
2. Use Boolean techniques
  • Use the words AND, OR, or NOT between words and phrases  - not all search engines and databases are as friendly as Google!
  • the asterisk sign can indicate you are searching for any variation of a particular word (Ex. teach* will find teach, teacher, teaching, etc.)
  • + the plus sign (even Google likes the +)
  • - the minus sign (when you are trying to eliminate words) 
  • “use quotation marks” when you want words kept together
3. Use sources that evaluate and recommend authentic websites 
  • databases from libraries
  • the Librarians Internet Index (
  • Internet Public Library (
  • Infomine: Scholarly Internet Resource Collections from University of California
  • AcademicInfo: "In-depth directory ... of the best and most useful links and resources within a specific subject area”
4. Use the advanced search features (in databases, search engines or directories)
  • Limit to type of domain (Ex. edu, org, gov), to dates (Ex. 2005 to 2008), or to languages (Ex. Spanish)
5. Use directories (e.g. Google directory) or Google Scholar
6.  Use your best resources to guide you to more resources
      Find a great article? What resources did the author/s use?   Go after those resources!