Peru State College
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Introduction to Research

Research can be overwhelming. Before you begin to search, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it exactly that I am looking for?
  • What information do I need?
  • Where am I likely to find this information?
  • What terms or words are likely to appear in the article, text, or page?


Now that you understand what you need, make is easier by

  1. selecting the right database or resource to search,
  2. using the right search fields to search, and
  3. entering the right words for your topic.


1. What to Search? - Select the right database or resource to search.


For Books, eBooks, DVDs, and other physical items

For Articles in Magazines, Journals, and Newspapers

For Web Pages

  • Google
  • Bing
  • Dogpile - Search Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines at once
  • Clusty - Searches multiple search engines and organizes results in clusters
  • other search engines


2. How to Search the Library Resource? Use the right search fields to search.


Search fields indicate what part(s) of a database you are searching. Unlike search engines that have only one point of access (keyword), the library's databases have several. The four most common are:

  • keyword - use any terms but not all results will be relevant (default choice in databases),
  • subject - all results are relevant but must use exact term(s) for the database
    (start with a keyword search and then look at a few results to see what terms are being used in the subjects) ,
  • author - search only for works by the author, and
  • title - search only the title.


3. What to Search for in the Database? Enter the right words for your topic.


Brainstorm or mind map terms that relevant to the information you need. Are there any synonyms, slang, or regional words?


Start with a keyword search. Browse some of the results. Are there any term that appear that seem more appropriate? How would that affect your search?


Remember to use Boolean to link terms together.

  • AND - narrows search results
  • OR - broadens search results
  • NOT - limits search results
    ( Use the minus sign [-] in search engines to remove terms from results.)


Phrase search - place a phrase between quote marks ("") (e.g. "global warming")


Truncation - use an asterisk (*) after the root of a word to find all variations of the word (e.g. educat* will retrieve educate, educators, education, educates, ...)


Wildcard - use a question mark (?) to replace one letter in a word (e.g. wom?n will retrieve woman and women)


Contact the library if you need help.