Information Literacy: On-Line Searching

Electronic Searching Strategies:

a) First you need to decide what it is you are going to research.

  • Formulate a question.
  • Example) I want to know about why it is important to use native plants in garden.

            But, what is the actual problem? Invasive, non-native plants taking over.

b) Keywords - main ideas, synonyms

  • What are the keywords or main ideas you need to use when searching?
  • Example) native plants; invasive plants; gardens
  • Any synonyms (words with the same meanings) that we might use in the search?
  • Example) native and indigenous

c) Try Narrowing your search with Boolean Searching -

d)  Try Phrase searching:

  • Look for an exact phrase by adding quotation marks
  • Example) “native california plants”
  • The quotes tell it to search for those words in that exact order

e) Wildcard - *

  • To expand your search to include all forms of the word (remember that computers are very literal; they look for exactly what you type in)
  • Examples) plant* = plant + plants
  • recycl* = recycle + recycling
  • activ* = active + activism + activist
  • Let's try it: Example) invasive plant* and native plant garden*

f)  Internet searching: Limit by types of websites

  • What type of website would you like?
  • Limit by typing or


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