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Political Sciences: Search strategy

Search for newspaper articles

What will I be searching?

1. Analyze your research question in order to identify concepts

  • nouns and verbs; 
  • who – what – where - when – why.


Analyze your topic to identify concepts

  • nouns and verbs;
  • reformulate your topic;
  • who - what - where - when - why

2. Collect background information: handbook; reference books,  eg. encyclopedia, subject dictionary, what you learned up to now in your course.

3. Define keywords:

  • terms which describe what you are searching for;
  • remember to include synonyms, use a reference book (dictionary and thesaurus) to find synonyms.
  • British vs American English;
  • Subject Headings for books in the library system and thesauri of the databases [controlled vocabulary];
  • Hierachies - broader and narrower terms.
4. Search Strategy design
Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3 Concept 4
xx or yy or zz aa or bb or cc gg or hh or jj mm or nn or qq


5. Search systematically.

  • Write down, keep track of what and how you are searching. This is just an example.




  • Apply the search hints.
  • Search in all the fields - Title, abstract, subjects/keywords, fulltext, as applicable.
  • Some databases keep track of your search strategy.

Search Strategy Builder

Search Strategy Builder

The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases' search boxes.

  Concept 1  and  Concept 2  and  Concept 3
 Name your concepts here    
Search terms Search terms Search terms
 List alternate terms for each concept.

 These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept. 

 Use single words, or "short phrases" in quotes













Now copy and paste the above Search Strategy into a database search box.

The Search Strategy Builder was developed by the University of Arizona Libraries and is used under a Creative Commons License.

Searching With Keywords

Sharing with thanks to the Lehman College Library.