Strategies for Searching Databases
Different search strategies work best for different databases; here are several of them:
“Google” searching (works best for databases such as Google, Bing, Duckduckgo, etc.)
Strategy: What would other folks looking for this kind of thing have typed?
- Natural language phrasing
- Common vocabulary
- Content keywords plus form / genre keywords
- the history of hummus
- hummus delivery Cambridge
Full-text searching (works best for databases such as JSTOR, Project Muse, Google Scholar, Google Books, etc.)
Strategy: What words are likely to occur most often in the sources I’m looking for?
- “Search exact phrases”
- Proper names
- Specific terms
- Lots of synonyms (using “and”)
- Hummus origin first invented food
- History cooking Saladin
- "Hummus bi tahini"
Index searching (best for databases such as HOLLIS+, Academic Search Premier, MLA Bibliography, etc.)
Strategy: How might an academic institution describe what I’m looking for?
- Start with general concepts or categories
- Lots of synonyms (using “or”)
- Explore your results for search vocabulary
- Islamic cooking – History
- Food -- Religious aspects -- Islam
(with thanks to Odile Harter for permission to adapt and re-use from the UNABRIDGED: A Master Class in Library Research guide)