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Search Strategy

Adopted from the original Search Strategy Worksheet on the HSU Library website

Failed Searches

Questions to Ask Yourself After a Failed Search

  • Did you misspell any words? 
  • Are there too many ANDs? (They reduce results.) 
  • Unnecessary addition of author’s name?
  • Punctuation? Used or not used?
  • Truncation error? Wrong symbol? Wrong placement?
  • Incorrect phrasing of title?
  • Did you misremember the title?
  • Accidentally searching title instead of keyword?
  • Incorrectly understanding system defaults (default OR, for example)?
  • Using synonyms or acronyms?

Expand Your Search

Broaden your search words.

Think of alternate words, or synonyms, for your search words, and add them to your search box with OR. 

For example. cars OR automobiles OR vehicles.

If you do find an article you like, look at the citation of the article to see what keywords the database or author used and try those as search words.

Read through one or more of the links in the How to Talk to Databases box in the other column for more tips.