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Library Science: Sample Search Strategies

A guide for doing research in library science.

Sample Search Strategies

Consider using a Concept Map to brainstorm your topic and a Research Strategy Worksheet to help organize your strategy.

My topic is:  community colleges and their budgets

Think about your topic and think of synonyms.  How will your topic be described in the literature?

Community college, two year college, junior college, ?

Budget, finance, ?

Use   "  "  around phrases:    "community college"

Use   *   with words that can have variable endings:  budget*    to include   budget, budgets, budgeting 


Search in databases such as ERIC, Education Source and Educational Administration Abstracts to start. 

You can search them all at one time.  Duplicates are removed!!


Use Advanced Search.  It provides multiple search fields.  Input the search strategy.


Review what you've found.  Searching is iterative and can be nonlinear. 

  • You can also Refine your search results.  See the left side of the display screen for LIMITS - Peer Reviewed, Publication Date and more.


Getting the Full-Text

  • Look for the PDF Full Text or Find@ASU link
  • If a PDF or other full-text option is not listed, click the Find@ASU option.  It will take you to the full-text if it is available. 
  • No full-text available online?  Use ILLiad (our interlibrary loan) to request a copy from another library (free of charge to you).


What other disciplines are interested in your topic? 

  • Consult the Databases page to discover databases in other fields.  Try searching in them.  You may need to tweak your terms.  A word can have a different meaning in another discipline.

Review the item's bibliography for additional leads.  (This strategy provides older relevant works.)

  • A bibliography takes you back in time to related works.  To find these items, search by book or journal title.  Remember you can use ILLiad (interlibrary loan) to obtain books and articles not available locally.

Discover who has cited relevant articles or books.  (This strategy provides newer relevant works.)

  • Use Google Scholar to move forward in time to see who has cited the work you have.  Search by author's last name and key words from the title.
  • Click "Cited By" to review those additional items on your topic.