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Food and Agriculture Guide: Search strategy

Assignment Calculator

To help you keep on track with your assignments, check the following tool developed by Minitex that calculates how long you should spend on each step of the research process.

Boolean Operators

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Boolean Operators, showing the logic for AND, OR, and NOT

Search strategy

Step 1 - Topic / thesis

Select a topic/thesis for your research project or assignment. Try to focus your topic as much as possible, concentrating on particular aspects of it, or by adding qualifiers (age group, species, place, time period).


Step 2 - Keywords

Write down your topic as a sentence that makes sense to others. Select the meaningful words from that sentence as your first keywords. Select other related words: synonyms, antonyms, spelling variants, plurals, scientific names, narrower or broader terms in the hierarchy (Ex: reptiles - snakes - phyton), that you can use as alternative keywords.


Step 3 - If you have a Citation

If you already have a citation for a book or an article that you need to find, the best strategy is to go directly to the CONSORT catalog . The catalog lists all the books and journals that the Denison library owns, with links to the online versions. Click on BOOKS or ARTICLES below for more detailed information.



Do a Title/Author search and find the book. If it is in Denison, use the call number to find it on the shelves. If it is in one of our partners libraries in CONSORT or OhioLINK, request the item using your full name and the complete barcode on the back of your Denison ID. If you cannot find it in CONSORT or OhioLINK, got to Google Books and try to find a free version on the web. If you still cannot find one, you can request an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) and the library will find a copy for you for free.



Do a Journal Title search (use the name of the journal, not the title of the article). We have access to a lot of online journals but sometimes only for particular periods of time. Some journals are only in print (2nd floor of the library). Once you find the journal, search for the correct year, volume and page and find the full text of the article. If you cannot find the journal, or the access to the full text of the article from the journal, go to Google Scholar and try to find a free version on the web. If you still cannot find one, you can request an Interlibrary Loan and the library will find a copy for you for free.


Step 4 - Search new books/articles

If you need to discover a new item, use your keywords to search Summon for books and articles, or explore the BOOKS tab or the ARTICLES tab below to see other options. When searching, try all your keywords, and remember that combining your terms correctly it is also very important (see Boolean operators for more).




Go to CONSORT, do a Keyword search and find a book of your interest. To find related books, open the record and click on the Subject to see other books on the same topic. To obtain the book follow the instructions on STEP 3. While in CONSORT click on the red tab "Search OhioLINK" to search for books in OhioLINK.



Select a Multidisciplinary Database or a Subject-specific Database related to your topic and do a Keyword/Topic search. To decrease the number of hits and narrow down your search, apply limits or refine your results using the options offered by the database. Once you have some promising articles, click on the PDF or 360 LINK icon to try to access the full text. If you cannot find a direct link to the full text from the database, remember that now you have the citation, so go to the CONSORT catalog and follow the instructions on STEP 3.


Step 5 - Save your info

While still searching in the Databases, you can save or export the records for the articles that look promising to your e-mail or to a Reference Management Program (like RefWorks) to save them for later without losing them. Take a look to our Citation Help to learn more about RefWorks.

Search tools

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Search Tools, of various search engines, catalogs, and databases

Denison Libraries, 100 W College, Granville, Ohio 43023
Phone: 740-587-6235, email:
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