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Graduate Students' Guide to the Library: Search Strategies

Graduate students have specialized research needs. This guide provides tips and tricks for getting started, but we also recommend that you get to know your subject librarian for in-depth questions and support.

Search Tips

Too few results?

  • Use fewer search terms, or swap out for synonyms.
  • Borrow the subject terms coming up in the sidebar.
  • Truncate keywords to get all variations of the word (e.g. "censor*" searches for censor, censored, censorship, and censors). 

Too many results?

  • Be more precise (e.g. basketball instead of sports).
  • Add an additional keyword.
  • Enclose exact phrases in double quotation marks (e.g., "world health organization").
  • Refine your search using the facets like publication type, date range, or subject headings.

Still need help?

Collect References

Use of citation management software to collect reference records from library databases and other sources such as websites can aid in organizing, formatting and managing your citations during the writing phase.  Begin early in choosing and using a a citation management tool to gain efficiency in your research project.  Learn about some citation management tools (EndNote, Mendeley, Zotero, RefWorks) from the Research Guide link below: 

Keeping Track of New Research

It can be a real pain to try to keep track of all the new information being published in your field of study. RSS feeds can help you stay on top of things.

Users subscribe to RSS feeds using various services called "aggregators" or more simply "feed readers" which compile and organize your feeds together in a readable format. Otherwise the alternative would be going to each page every day to check on every single webpage. There are many feed readers (aggregators) to choose from. Feedly is a popular one.

RSS Feeds from Databases

You can set up databases to alert you by email you when a new article matches your search terms.  You can also set up an RSS feed so that you get notification of new articles matching your search in your feed reader.

RSS feed imageThis is the most commonly used icon to denote a feed.  After you search a database and have a results list, look for this RSS icon (or a link that says "Set up alerts") and click on it to add a new feed to your feed reader.