A search strategy is an organized method to retrieve information about a specific topic. Use the techniques described below to become a better researcher.
Keyword Searching: In databases and search engines, it is possible to do a broad search for information by typing in a term which you feel describes your topic and using it as a keyword. Every occurrence of your keyword from all the searchable fields will be found. The searchable fields could include the full-text of an article or an entire web page.
You may retrieve a large number of hits. Look carefully at a couple of the relevant hits to get ideas for other terms which could help you refine your search. Keyword searching can be time consuming and exhausting because it is such a broad method of searching. Remember: Finding too much information is just as problematic as finding too little information.
How can you refine a search? The best thing about databases is that they contains records with fields that can be sorted, arranged, and searched (see Types of Databases for more information). When confronted with many results in a first broad keyword search, you can narrow your search by limiting it to specific fields, like the subject field.
Searching Subject Headings: Subjects are created from a "controlled vocabulary" by a human after carefully reading or looking at the item. Each item will have only a few subject terms which must be chosen from a list of allowable subject headings, a controlled vocabulary. If you find one book or article that meets your needs, look at the subject assigned. It may not be what you expect. Often these are highlighted links.