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Answered By: Suzanne Schriefer, Criminal Justice & Paralegal Librarian
Last Updated: Jun 08, 2016     Views: 47

Creating a plan before searching a library database makes the process of locating relevant resources efficient and more successful.  Using a search menu can assist with this process.

First, write a description of what you hope to accomplish in your research assignment.  This can take the form of a research question or a thesis statement.

Next, identify keywords that describe the concepts that you need present in a resource for it to be helpful to you.  Enter keywords describing the concept into the menu. Reserve each line of the menu for each concept. Because the full text of an article is searched, consider listing synonyms or related terms describing that concept in the appropriate concept line of the menu.

Link the synonyms in your search with the "OR" connector to include all terms describing that concept.

Link the concepts in your search with the "AND" connector in order to have all concepts included in the same resource.

View the completed search menu below to better understand how creating a thesis statement or research question can assist in identifying main concepts and key words that can be used in a database search:

An example of a database search statement for the search menu completed above may be:

"distracted driving" and (accident* or fatal*) and (text* or "cell phone")

TIP: Enclosing terms of two or more words with quotation marks will search for those words together, in the order typed.  Using an asterisk (*) at the end of a root of a word will retrieve all forms of that term (for example, text* will retrieve text, texts, texting, texted).

A blank search menu is linked below for your use.

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