1. Explore topic basics and develop keywords (casual searching)
2. Quantitative Research (government documents or statistical websites)
3. Research (library databases)
4. Support your argument (cite reliable sources)
5. Drafts & revisions (research librarians & learning commons)
You will find that databases respond to some words better than others In the preliminary phase it's important to try searching different terms, that way you can figure out what terms return the research you want.
Later you can take these keywords and use them on different databases. Try using different terms in combination as well.
Using quotation marks in your query ensures your results contains words and terms you search. Instead of searching for the words individually (think "Diet" "Coke") it will search for them together ("Diet Coke")
Using an all-caps AND, OR, NOT, you can link terms.
AND is a great way to pair two different search terms (think "United States of America" AND "Unemployment rate").
OR searches for both terms ("United States of America" OR "U.S.A.").
NOT excludes terms ("United States of America" AND "Unemployment rate" NOT historical).
Check out the filters on the left side of the search tab. Especially make use of date and subject.
What government program are you researching?
Is the program referred to by an acroynm or a different name? Which way produces the most relevant results?
Example: "WIC" or "Women, Infants, and Children"
What government agency or department is responsible for the program? Look for the official .gov site. The agency and or department should be part of the URL and should be listed on the page.
Example: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a program under the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. I got this information from the official website.
Unfamiliar with search terms or unhappy with results? Try using the thesaurus feature built into the database!