Search strategy: the building block approach

An effective method of searching the library databases is to take your topic and break it into different “building blocks”. For example, lets say I am interested in researching about poor people in rural areas and the impact these factors have on educational success. I can break my topic into three parts:

  1. poor people
  2. rural areas
  3. educational success

Notice on the advance search page for most of the library database, there are three search boxes. This fits in well with the building block approach! You’ll also want to think about different ways to describe your topic. For example, you might have more success if you use the term poverty instead of poor people. No matches with educational success? Try educational attainment instead. Keep in mind that part of effective database searching is matching your search terms with the subject headings being used by the database!



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