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ENGL 2A: Critical Thinking & Writing (Crafts)

Database Searching in 4 Steps: The Video

Is it really only 4 steps?

Pick a Database by answering these questions:

  • Who do you want to hear from? Which disciplines would have done research in this area? Or, maybe you want to hear from folks working in a certain field? Perhaps librarians have something to say on that topic? Or oil & gas executives? 
  • What formats are you going for? Books? Scholarly articles? Streaming video? Newspaper articles?
  • Do you need current information? Or, are you wanting to search historically?


Construct/Compose a logical beginning search by:

  • Deciding on the simplest, clearest terms for each concept/idea inherent in your research topic; and, then
  • connecting the ideas with AND; and, then
  • separating synonyms with OR; and, then
  • truncating to pick up word variants; and, then
  • enclosing any phrases in quotations.

For example the search pictured below is looking for material on how Muslims are portrayed in popular media:



Revise your first search by:

  • Scrutinizing your search results looking for additional or better terms; and
  • being especially attentive to the words appearing the Subject fields; and
  • making logical use of the Boolean OR; and
  • perhaps, limiting major concepts to the Subject field search (assuming you saw these words/phrases used as Subjects).

Using the example above, I would change my search like this:


Efficiently sort through your results by:

  • Collecting relevant citations using tools of the database; and, then
  • emailing yourself formatted citations; and, always
  • utilizing the Find-It-@-SCU link to locate additional fulltext.