- Take advantage of research done by others; consult secondary sources.
- Be sure to consult footnotes and references in sources consulted for further references.
- Browse books on the shelf. Online catalogs often do not list book chapter titles/authors in the cataloging record.
- Many relevant books will not be retrieved with a specific search in an online catalog.
- Keep track of your research. Record the source searched, the date, the searches performed, useful subject headings.
- If you locate a useful website, write down or bookmark the URL (address).
- Be aware of the scope of databases searched (dates of coverage, kind of materials included, whether full text or not).
- Know the distinction between commercial databases and other materials posted on the Internet.
- Know how to evaluate online resources:
- Every database has different searching rules. Learn and apply them for best results. Look at HELP screen for individual database to learn rules. At a minimum look for connectors, wildcard or truncation symbols, how to enter phrases.
- Don’t give up after one or two searches in a database; try slight variations of your search to try to hit upon one that works and to gradually piece together the rules that apply.
- When searching a database, look at the advanced search or expert search templates; often they are easier to use than the basic search template.
- Use controlled vocabulary (subject headings) as well as keyword or free text searching.
- Use field searching where relevant.
- Adjust your search based on whether you are searching a full text or non-full-text (citations, abstracts) database. (e.g., use more specific terms in a full text database; use more general terms in a non-full text database).
- Be creative when thinking up search terms. Try using alternative terms, broader terms, more specific terms, opposite terms, category terms. Think backwards: what terms might appear in the kind of document or material you are looking for?
- Try British spelling (e.g. labour, organisation , honour, centre, judgement, defence, licence). http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/british-and-american-spelling
- Try misspellings/alternative spellings/punctuation variations. https://web.archive.org/web/20050226144126/http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/publications/eh/2003/030904.html
- Remember research sources are interrelated. They often refer to or are linked to each other, though not necessarily directly.
- Consult the SITEMAP and LINKS of any potentially useful website. They may lead you to other relevant materials.
- Don’t ignore a source because it is in paper format.
- Ask a reference librarian for help!