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Undergraduate Research Guide: Search strategies

Subjects: English

Search tips

It is worth keeping a good record of the searching that you do and the results that you find when using online resources.

You will find that many of the databases you use (such as the MLA Bibliography and LION) will let you save searches and email results to yourself. Check the help section of any resource you use to see what might be possible.

  • Brainstorm
  • Make a list of key words and concepts
  • Write a list of search terms, using extended and refined terms and apply these to each resource
  • Remember to use synonyms e.g. “literary criticism” and “literary theory”
  • Use Boolean search terms (AND, OR, NOT) to refine your search e.g. “literary theory AND criticism”
  • Write a list of possible resources and search them systematically
  • Make a note of the search terms used to find relevant results


Evaluating online resources


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Before you use any information online it is important to evaluate it to determine its validity. We have created a guide to spotting fake or erroneous information which you can find on our Fake News LibGuide