Skip to Main Content
Ask A Librarian HoursLibrary CatalogArticle Databases RESEARCH SERVICESHELPINFORMATION FOR...

ENG 350 - Tigchelaar: Search Strategies


  Tips for Upper-level Students


  • Problem: you are using all of the advanced search options, but you're not finding enough results.
  • Solution: It's better to start wide/general and then use options and filters to narrow your search results.



  • Problem: there are several ways to construct your search. 
  • SolutionAlways write down any synonyms for your search terms and simply try combinations of those terms.
    • The author of a publication may be using a certain term or jargon, while you are searching for another one. Example: "punch drunk syndrome" versus "CTE" or "Chronic traumatic encephalopathy"
    • It is important to try several searches with similar terms because databases might not automatically understand it.
    • Use Advanced Search option Boolean operator "or" to expand your search:

Combining similar or related terms with the boolean operator "or" will result in more search results.


  • Problem: you only have so much time to do research!
  • Solution: look for Help options within the databases that can increase the efficiency of your search




  • Problem: You have done several different searches, and now you've lost track of what you've looked for and what you haven't.
  • Related: you forgot to save an article that now you think may be useful, and you're having trouble finding it again. 
  • Solution: look for options like "Search History." Or, create database accounts and be dilligent about logging in and saving articles. 

Using EbscoHost's search history function will allow you to view the search terms and subsequent search results for your session.


Example of EbscoHost search history

Database Strategies

Use the examples below for help within specific databases


Academic Search Premier (EBSCOHost)

Ebsco Host icon

Main search page  Search Options, Apply Equivalent Subjects + Apply Related Words + Also Search Within Full text of articles


Project MUSE

Project MUSE icon

From main search box, enter search term(s)  from search results page, left side options  scroll down to Research Area, select all that apply



JSTOR icon

Advanced Search  scroll down, look for: Journal Filter, Narrow by discipline and/or journal


Credo Reference

Credo Icon

Credo Advanced Search  Limit Your Search Results to... Select Subjects or Titles



Summon search icon

Summon Advanced Search  Content Type & Discipline filters