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HHP 473: Undergraduate Culminating Experience: Search Tips

Created for students enrolled in HHP473, this guide provides suggested resources and research tips about where to search, how to search, tips for writing an annotated bibliography, evaluating a source and APA citations.

Where and How to Search

What does the Search Everything Tool on fhsu.edu/library Search?

With the power of one search box, the main search on the library homepage will include results from Forsyth Library's Collections (all of the physical resources inside the library) and multiple research databases (the majority of the electronic resources to which the library provides access). There are tabs at the top to Search Everything, or limit your search to Articles, Digital Archives, or Books and More.

 

Use Search Everything if ...

  • You are looking for a specific article title, book, or author
     
  • You want a variety of resource types. Among the results you'll find:
    • peer-reviewed articles
    • physical books
    • ebooks
    • newspaper articles
    • reference entries (encyclopedias)
    • videos
    • government documents
    • And other resource types
       
  • You are just starting your research 

 

Using the Advanced Search

To help you build stronger search queries, click on Advanced Search to connect multiple keywords into your search query and have the option to filter your results by material type and date if you have any of those requirements for your resources. (Click on the image to see the search query and results)

 

Filtering Your Results

Once you've done an initial search, use the Filter Results sidebar to apply various filters to tell the database exactly what you're looking for.

You can apply filters, allowing you to tell the database to show only the results that meet your criteria, such as:

  • peer-reviewed journals;
  • materials that are only available online (Full Text Online);
  • a specific resource type you want to find (article, book, newspaper, etc.);
  • narrow by publication date

Make sure you explore the filters available (hint: you may need to click "Show More" to see all of the filter types and options that can apply to your results.

Using Research Databases from the A-Z List

When you search in Research Databases, you are searching in a smaller, more concentrated pool of resources that are organized around a particular subject area or resource type. 

From the A-Z List, use the subject dropdown to select your major or the subject for your class for recommended databases.

If you're looking for a particular resource type (ex. newspapers or encyclopedias), use the Database Type dropdown menu to narrow the list of databases down to databases that only contain those particular types of resources.

To get to a database, click directly on the blue, hyperlinked title listed on the page.

 

Use a Research Database if ...

  • You need specialized information within your academic discipline or subject area.
    • This could vary based on your major, the class for which you're doing a research assignment, or your research topic
       
  • You want a specific type of resource, such as
    • Newspapers
    • Encyclopedia/Reference (for background research)
    • Videos
    • Etc.
       
  • You want more tools and features to search for resources and filter your results

 

Why use a Research Database?

Using Effective Search Strategies in Google

There are a few types of resources that you may need to search outside of the library to find. For example, if you're looking for a website resource, you'll need to use Google or a similar search engine to find your resource and evaluate it's credibility. You can apply many of the search strategies we've learned when you're searching Google. Use the tips below to help bring back more relevant results:

"quotations around a phrase"

Ex: "influenza vaccination"

Just like when you're searching in library databases, by putting quotations around a phrase or multiple words, you're telling the search engine that you want to see those words in that order.

This brings back fewer, but more relevant results.

site:URL

Ex: site:mayoclinic.org vaccination

Use a site search to use Google's search engine to search for content on a particular website. 

For example, by searching the fhsu.edu URL in addition to a keyword, I make sure that my results are related to FHSU instead of any other university. 

.org or .edu or .gov

Ex. influenza vaccination statistics .gov

By specifying the end of the URL Google responds with results that more closely match that type of website. For example, maybe I was wanting to find statistics relating to influenza vaccinations, I might find that data on a government website like the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

filetype:pdf

Ex. influenza vaccination statistics filetype:pdf

You can tell Google what type of file you're looking for in order to search for uploaded documents relating to your keyword search. The following file types might be helpful when:

  • PDF - reports, publications, handouts, fliers, or other finalized materials
  • PPT - slideshow presentations (from conferences, lectures, etc.)
  • XLS - spreadsheets, budgets, etc.
  • DOC - editable templates or worksheets

 

Brainstorm Keywords

Brainstorm Additional Keywords

Before you start searching, it's helpful to brainstorm keywords relating to your research topic. You may need to do some background research on your research question before you can identify additional keywords.

For example, let's say your research question is: In the past decade, how has the flu shot impacted the number of flu cases among elderly patients in the United States.

The main concepts would be: 

  • flu shot
  • flu cases
  • elderly patients
  • United States

There are three main ways to brainstorm keywords based on key concepts:

  1. Look for synonyms. Synonyms are terms that mean the same thing as your original key concepts:
    • Ex: "aging populations" is a synonym for "elderly patients"
  2. Look for narrower terms. Narrower terms are specific examples of your key concepts:
    • Ex: "Influenza A" is a type of "flu case"
  3. Look for broader terms. Broader terms are bigger categories that your key concepts can fit into.
    • Ex: "flu shot" fits into the category of "vaccinations"

Connecting Keywords

Connecting Keywords with Search Operators

Once you've brainstormed keywords for your research question, think about what operators you may use. Operators are a way of combining keywords to get the best results from your search.

 

 

AND

Use AND when you want to find articles or other information that contains both/all keywords

Ex: flu shot AND flu cases AND elderly patients

 

 

OR

Use OR when you want to find articles or other information that contains at least one of the keywords

 Ex: influenza vaccination OR flu shot

 

"Quotation

Marks"

Put quotes around phrases when you want that phrase to be found in that exact order      

Ex: "influenza vaccination"

Advanced Search Tips

Watch the video below for using subject headings for a more powerful search strategy.