Skip to Main Content SC4 Library Logo

Sociology 110 - Social Problems

Search strategies

When searching for information, there are a number of techniques to use that will help refine your search results .  You can use these strategies when looking for information from the library databases or from a search engine such as Google.

Search Strategies

A basic search is constructed using keywords, which together form your query.

The keywords you choose to include in your query will have a direct result on the search results.

Keys to conducting a good search include:

  • Do some background research on your research topic to gather potential keywords and phrases. Encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri and other reference materials will be helpful in learning the terminology used by professionals writing in the field. 
  • Conduct multiple types of searches. A keyword search will generally provide the most results, but not all results will be necessarily on topic. Try using a subject search or try limiting your search by date or format. 
  • Try searching a broad topic and then narrow down the search field by using supplementary links, and subject suggestions within the catalog & and the search within feature of the databases.
  • Search multiple locations and look for a variety of sources. The SC4 OneSearch box will give results from many formats including journal, newspaper, and magazine articles, ebooks, print books, streaming videos, and other formats.
  • Combine words and phrases using the search strategies in this guide. Keep track of which terms you have searched, and of which combinations draw better results.
  • Copy or save citations as you search for easier retrieval later.

If you need assistance or feel a little lost – be sure to ask a SC4 Librarian for help!

Advanced Search Strategies

Boolean Operators

Refine your search results using Boolean operators. The three most common Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT, but there are others available. The operators AND and NOT will narrow your search and OR will usually increase your search results. (The AND operator is not necessary in Google; Google automatically adds the AND between words unless a phrase is put in quotation marks.)

The images below explain differences between the Boolean operators.












Keyword Generation Tool