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Search like a librarian

Floppy disk that says World Wide Web

Think creatively about keywords and search terms. 

If you want to research how poverty affects school kids in Kokomo, don't get stuck searching for "poverty school kids Kokomo." Maybe you also want to search for information about poverty in Indiana, or primarily rural areas, of poverty's effects on kids in the United States. Maybe you also want to think about what kinds of impacts you're interested in, like academic performance, or health, or social development.

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Fine I was trying something and it didn't work

Use at least two search tools or databases.

Sure, you may have a favorite database, but don't limit your research to only one tool or platform. You want to strategically select at least two tools or databases to make sure you're getting a broad range of sources. Plus, if you aren't finding what you need on the first one, you have another one ready to try.

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It's that easy

If you find one great source, follow its lead.

When you find that one perfect source that speaks directly to your topic or research question, take full advantage of the situation: click on embedded links, track down the sources that it cites, and use the subject headings or keywords to do more searching.

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Choose sources that are the most relevant and do the most to advance your argument or answer your research questions.

Don't settle for the first five articles you find. If you need background information on a topic or event, look for summaries in databases (or online) that include encyclopedias, topic pages, and overviews. If you need current academic research, search for scholarly journal articles. And remember, it shouldn't be enough for your keywords to just show up in the article somewhere. Use only the best sources to make the best argument.

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Hashtag Fact

Use your resources: work with a librarian!

Librarians are experts on our Library's resources and doing research. Whether you're working on a brand new topic or digging deeper on a topic you know well, reaching out to a librarian can save you a lot of time and confusion. We librarians ask one another our research questions all the time, so you should too. 

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Pro tips

Use connector keywords (known as boolean operators) to change up your search results:

And, Or, Not

Add one of these six words as a keyword to answer different questions about your topic:

Impact, Statistics, Demographics, Timeline, History, Outcome

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