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Power Searching 501 (?): a crash course The stuff you need to know about searching, but may have forgotten along the way! (And, the stuff I want you to know before you go off to college!) But we’ve heard this all before, Mrs. V!

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power searching 501 a crash course
PowerSearching 501 (?): a crash course

The stuff you need to

know about searching, but may have forgotten along the way!

(And, the stuff I want you to know

before you go off to college!)


Sorry.This important review won’t hurt too much! I promise!!!! And it will help you in college and beyond!

let us begin
Let us begin!

Yeah! Okay. We love databases and searching!


And I love your enthusiasm for

searching and databases!

You make me proud!

Review question #1:

What is the difference between free Web search tools and subscription databases?

choose the right search engine for your information need
Choose the right search engine for your information need!

Choosing the Best Search Tool (Debbie Abilock) http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html

Getting Started: Selecting a Tool for your Search


even google has choices
Even Google has choices:
  • Google Print - Search the full text of books
  • Google Scholar - Search scholarly papers
  • Google Directory for a subject approach
  • Google Images
Review question # 3: And when you are in the search engine or database, did you know you have a major searching interface choice?
Simple vs. Advanced

It’s about power!


Simple Screen

Click here for more precision and power!

another decision
Another decision:

Subject / Topic


Full text

review question 4 what is the difference
Review question #4What is the difference?
  • Subject / topic
  • Keyword
  • Full text

When might you use each?


Subject headings or descriptors in databases

Use the language and structure of the database to gather relevant material!

More about


headings and database structure!

stop the insanity
STOP the insanity!

Stop using stop words in your searches!

in, of, the, a, to you, why, who, what, on, than, then, their, an, his, her, be

rockwell schrock s boolean machine
Rockwell Schrock’s Boolean Machine


google doesn t care

Google doesn’t care,

but your

database does!

Google ignores stop words and assumes an AND between words.

when do you really need or
When do you really need OR?

OR is generally used for synonyms or related words.

not as a refinement technique for problem words eagles not philadelphia martin luther not king
NOT as a refinement technique for problem words eagles NOT Philadelphia“Martin Luther” NOT King
phrase searching
“Phrase searching”
  • One of your best searching tools!
  • Use only for legitimate phrases, names, titles
      • Best example -- “vitamin A”
      • “John Quincy Adams”
      • Titles “An Officer and a Gentleman”
      • “to be or not to be”
  • Phrase searching is sometimes overused: not every group of words is a phrase
  • Sometimes “ANDing” is a better strategy
wildcards and stemming
Wildcards and stemming
  • Google stems, it returns varies forms of words
  • Many databases do not stem.
  • Use an asterisk for various word forms

adolesc* child* teen*

BE CAREFUL when you stem: cat*

a question is not a query
A question is not a query

How many buffalo remain in the United States?

Can you create an effective

“two word” search?

From David Barr, formerly of IMSA

how to structure a good query
How to structure a good query
  • Brainstorm several key words and phrases—the ones you think would appear and wouldn’t appear in your dream document
  • Anticipate synonyms and related words
  • Mine your results!: be on the look out for better words and phrases as you search
more on the query
More on the query
  • Focus on nouns (verbs are often vague, stop words, like articles—a, an, the—are ignored by most engines)
  • Include most important words and phrases first.

Searching by media type and using phrases

(Also phrase searching

Search / filter by media type


and finally as you search consider
And finally, as you search, consider . . .

What types of sources does your instructor want you to cite:

Primary sources?

Scholarly sources?

Popular sources?

Trade journals?

consider what type of source is contained on that printout
Consider what type of source is contained on that printout?
  • Popular?
  • Trade?
  • Scholarly?
  • Primary source?


scholarly words
Scholarly words
  • Refereed
  • Peer reviewed
  • Scholarly
filter for scholarly
Filter for scholarly

and for full text


When to use Wikipedia and other wiki sources


online offline school academic public
Online, offlineSchool, academic, public

Librarians can really help!


Habits of mind apply to research

  • Tolerating, embracing ambiguity
  • Using resources wisely
  • Seeking accuracy
  • Seeking clarity
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of your own actions
  • Planning
  • Being responsive to feedback
  • Being open-minded
  • Engaging intensely