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Search Strategy

Using SuperSearch to search library databases and Google

Rather than using Google or another web search engine to look for web pages, start your search by using the "SuperSearch" search box on the Skyline College Library homepage to find magazine, newspaper and journal articles, and books and eBooks in our library databases.  These are the best types of sources for academic research and most of these sources found using SuperSearch will not be found using Web search engines.

(The Skyline College Library website -- -- can be found by Googling: Skyline College Library.)

SuperSearch will allow you to e-mail sources to yourself as well as providing correctly-formatted citations for any source. After completing a search in SuperSearch, you will also be able to do the same search in Google with a single click. Some web pages may provide good quality sources that are not available in our library databases, but you will need to be sure to closely evaluate the quality of any web pages.

Search Strategy Steps

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

How has fast food contributed to childhood obesity?

2. Divide your research topic or question into basic key ideas, called “concepts.” Most well-focused research topics will have two to three concepts. The above research topic, for example has three concepts:

  • 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" OR "Burger King" OR McDonalds
  • children OR teens OR "young adults" OR adolescents
  • obesity OR overweight

How to use SuperSearch to search for sources on a specific research topic

Follow the steps below to search for high quality academic sources using the SuperSearch search box on the Skyline College Library homepage. (Click here to open the Library home page in a new window).

  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 adults" OR adolescents
  3. Repeat the same step in subsequent search boxes for additional concepts. Be sure to enter search words for each concept in a separate search box with ORs between different words or phrases for the same concept.
  4. After you have entered search words for all of your concepts, click the Search button.
  5. When the results page is displayed, click on an article title to see detailed information and a summary of the article. (Article summaries are called abstracts.)
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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. (The default format that is pre-set is MLA.)

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
  • 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 New York Times website  
             will limit a search to just the San Francisco 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 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.