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Search Strategy

1. Identify your research topic or research question.  Be specific, not general.  For example:

How has fast food contributed to the childhood obesity epidemic?

2. Divide your research topic or question into basic key ideas, called “concepts.” Example:

  • fast food
  • children
  • obesity

3. Write other words or phrases that might be used for each concept; put quotes around phrases (multiple words to be searched together, e.g. “fast food”); write OR between different words or phrases for each concept.  Example:

  • "fast food"
  • children OR teens OR "young people" OR adolescents
  • obesity OR overweight

How to use the Article Databases on the Library Website

Search for high quality academic sources using the Search page:

  1. To search for more than one "concept", click 'Advanced Search' below the Search box.
  2. Type the search word(s) for one concept related to your topic. Type an OR between synonymous words for the same concept, e.g. children OR teens OR "young people" OR adolescents
  3. Repeat the same step in subsequent search boxes for additional concepts.
  4. When the results page is displayed, click on an article title to see detailed information and a summary of the article.
  5. To limit results to a specific type of source (e.g. magazine articles, journal articles or books), click on the desired type under  "Source Types" on the left column
  6. To see the full-text of an article, click on a link at the upper left of the detailed information page, e.g. PDF Full Text or HTML Full Text or Full Text Finder
  7. To e-mail or print an article, click on the e-mail or print buttons on the right task bar. A source citation will also be sent when you email a document. You can select the citation format (MLA, APA, Chicago) from the menu in the email box.

Google Tips

  • To do a Google search with the same search words already entered in Super Search, click “Search” in the Google box on the “Extend Your Search” column on the right side of the results page
  • Google does not use the *
  • To limit to a specific domain, use site: in front of the domain name (no spaces), e.g.   will limit a search to just .edu sites OR   will limit a search to either .edu or .gov sites  will exclude .com
  • To limit to a specific website, use site: in front of the website address (no spaces), e.g.   will limit a search to just the N.Y. Times website  
             will limit a search to just the S.F. Chronicle website
  • When you find a relevant web page in Google results, you can find other pages on similar topics by using Google’s “Similar” option:
       - Click on the pull-down arrow to the right of the green URL line of a Google result
       - Then click on "Similar", if available (not available for all results)
  • Limit by time period:
       - Click on “Search Tools” at the top of the results page;
       - Then click on “Any Time” pull-down menu.
  • Additional search boxes for other search engines, e.g. Google Scholar and Ethnic Newswatch, are available on the “Extend Your Search” column on the right side of the results page
  • If no full-text article is displayed for an article, request the article by completing the Article Delivery Service (ADS) form.  Requests through the ADS form will usually be sent to you within 24 hours (often within a much shorter time.