This module covers the basics of searching for information, including choosing the right source, identifying keywords, and search techniques.
Find learning objectives, standards addressed, discussion topics, & activity ideas here
Databases are your primary search tool for finding articles on a topic.
To choose an appropriate database, ask yourself which disciplines are relevant to your topic. A paper about global warming, for example, may be relevant to a number of disciplines including environmental science, political science, and business. Once you decide which discipline(s) to focus on, select databases by subject from our A-Z List.
To find recommended databases to use as starting points by popular disciplines, visit the Research: Start page and select the appropriate subject/discipline on the list on the left.
Use the tools built-in to the databases and other resources to help guide you, such as subject headings, tags, related searches, etc.
Create a Search Strategy
Combine your keywords/search terms with Boolean operators
Break your research topic into keywords.
Use parentheses with your terms and Boolean operators to create your search phrase
Each database may have different features that will expedite your searches.
Look at links and/or icons for these functions:
Use Boolean operators (the words AND, OR, and NOT) to combine your search terms.
You can use as many Boolean operators as you like in a search phrase, but include related concepts in parentheses to keep the phrase organized (this is called nesting). For example:
Dog OR Canine AND Bark NOT Tree: Messy
(Dog OR Canine) AND (Bark NOT Tree): Clear
For more information and practice exercises, see the Boolean searching guide by the Colorado State University Libraries.
Are the articles you need in other libraries?
You can get materials from other FIU Libraries, Florida Universities, or community/public libraries. Inter-library Loan can help you obtain books and articles that FIU doesn't own. Please keep in mind that this can take several days or weeks. Directions and forms for Inter-library Loan are available online.