Public Service Leadership: Search Strategy

Helpful resources for study and research in Public Service Leadership

Search Strategy & Tips

  1. State your topic or research question in your own words. (example: "How do hiring freezes affect delivery of public services"?)
  2. Identify the most important keywords (usually the nouns) or short, commonly used phrases.
  3. Think of variations (singular, plural) and synonyms for your terms. It may help to check Thesaurus.com.
  4. Create an initial search statement using connectors or logical operators (especially AND, OR) and, if appropriate, wildcards.
  5. Try it out in one or more databases and/or Library Catalog.
  6. Look for other good keywords and subject terms in search results.
  7. Try revised searches until you're satisfied with the results.
  8. Depending on the volume of results, consider narrowing or broadening your topic.
  9. If you're having difficulties, contact us.

Find more (broaden your results) with OR and wildcards:
   exercise OR physical activity   (finds either term)
   depression OR mood
   cardi*   (finds cardiovascular, cardio, cardiac, cardiologist etc.)

Find less (narrow your results) with AND:
   steroids AND baseball   (only returns records that match both terms)

Find less with NOT:
   gymnastics NOT olympics   (excludes records that mention olympics)

Sample search statement:
   (steroids OR performance enhancing drugs) AND abuse

Limiters can help to improve the relevance and focus of results:

  • Narrow results with standard  limiters (peer-reviewed, date; document type; language; etc.)
  • Some databases allows quotation marks for an "exact phrase"
  • In databases for a specific subject discipline, look for specialized limiters (such as role of organism in Biological Abstracts)
  • Try restricting some terms to the title or abstract field
  • Try restricting some terms to the subject or descriptors field. Subject terms can vary from database to database, but using them usually improves relevance so look for them in results displays and detailed records. Many databases include a subject terms thesaurus.

 

  • Look for different, relevant keywords or subject terms to try
  • Simplify your search by removing less critical search terms or limiters
  • Expand some terms to the all text or full text field, if provided
  • Try a different database or OneSearch

Finding Scholarly Articles on Your Topic

These tutorials include practice in Neumann Library web-based resources and self-quiz questions to help you check your understanding.

Essential Tools for Online Searching: AND, OR, and Wildcards

(1:43) Learn how logical operators AND and OR work to help you get good results in library research databases.

(1:55) Learn how to retrieve varying forms of a word and improve search results.

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