Selected search strategies for use in library catalogs and databases.
- Keyword Searching. Conduct a keyword search in a database using either heuristically developed search terms or a list of carefully developed search terms, depending on the database and your needs. If permitted in the database, you may want to combine terms using Boolean AND, OR, or NOT. Find materials of interest and note the relevant subject headings, descriptors, topics, etc. for further use in Keyword Searching or in Subject Searching.
- Subject Searching. Subject search in a database. A good way to develop a list of terms to be used in Subject Searching is by Keyword Searching. If permitted in the database, you may want to combine terms using Boolean AND, OR, or NOT.
- Author Searching. Identify an author who has published in the area of interest. Conduct an author search to find other materials by that author. Also find the author's CV, which might contain obscure materials or materials not yet published.
- Footnote Chasing. Find a book or article of interest, then follow the footnotes. In so doing, one follows research backward in time. This can be done based on a print or on a full-text electronic version of the item. Some databases, e.g. SAGE Journals Online, ScienceDirect, Scopus, also provide a searchable bibliography of some articles. The freely available Google Books and Google Scholar also provide some bibliographies.
- Citation searching. Find a book or article of interest, then find the articles or books that cite it. This enables one to follow research forward in time. At Lovejoy Library, SAGE Journals Online, ScienceDirect, Scopus, etc. allow citation searching. This is also possible using other services providing full-text searching of documents such as the freely available Google Books and Google Scholar. Web of Knowledge, not available at Lovejoy but usually available at major research libraries, also provides citation searching.
- Browsing. Find a book of interest that is shelved using the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) scheme. (Alternatively, use the Library of Congress Subject Headings volumes to find a call number range corresponding to a given Library of Congress Subject Heading.) Go to the shelf where the book is located (or would be, were it on the shelf). Browse other materials near the book of interest. Repeat for other collections that are arranged using LCC, e.g. Book Collection, Reference Book Collection, etc. This strategy allows for serendipitous finds.
- Journal Run. Identify an important journal in the area of interest. Then browse through all volumes in the relevant years. As Bates notes, "this approach exploits Bradford's Law: the core journals in a subject area are going to have very high rates of relevant materials in that area".
Author Searching, Browsing (what she calls "Area Scanning"), Citation Searching, Footnote chasing, Journal Run, and Subject Searching are from Marcia J. Bates' classic article, "The Design of Browsing and Berrypicking Techniques for the Online Search Interface." Online Review 13 (October 1989): 407-424.