1. Define your question or topic
2. Identify the type of information you need on that topic
Does it need to be peer-reviewed? From the last five years? Related to a certain field?
3. Brainstorm keywords and search terms
4. Decide where to search
Online? In Spartan Search? In a subject specific database?
5. Search and then adjust your search based on results
Look at abstracts to get a sense of whether a source will fit your needs without having to read the whole thing!
7. Save your finds by downloading a copy, saving the permalink, or emailing it to yourself
Identify keywords for your topic and brainstorm narrower, broader, and related terms.
Example: Factors that affect academic performance in first-generation college students.
|Children of Immigrants
Boolean Operators AND, OR, and NOT allow you to broaden or narrow your results in the library catalog and databases. You can easily use these to clarify what you need by choosing the advanced search option.
Add more keywords.
Adding additional keywords to your search can help to further narrow your topic.
Example: college AND first-generation students AND academic performance
Use a filter
Look on the left side for ways you can filter your materials. Here are a few to consider, depending on your needs.
Try different search terms.
What other words could you use to describe this concept? Brainstorm related terms, synonyms, and slightly different forms of your word or phrase. Also brainstorm broader categories or concepts it belongs to, as well as narrower elements or examples. (See the keywords section above for examples.)
It may also be useful to consider the official, academic, or formal way to write that term. This is more likely to be used in academic writing.
Use fewer search terms.
Sometimes less is more! The more words, phrases, or subjects you ask the database to find, the fewer sources will meet the criteria.
Broaden your search by using the boolean operator OR to link your terms.
Example: (college OR higher education OR university) AND first-generation students AND (academic performance OR student success)
There is often a feature built into library databases that provides a linked list of references. In Spartan Search, click the red arrows next to the article's title to find the article's References (the downward-facing arrow), and articles that have cited this title (the upward-facing arrow).
Don't see that option? You can manually copy that title into Spartan Search, ideally in quotation marks, to look for the full text. If you don't find your article, you can try searching on Google Scholar to see if there is a free copy available. Free copies are linked to the right of the article title.
Still can't find it? Create a request in your TIPASA Interlibrary Loan Account.