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Searching tips

- Narrow your focus before you begin searching

The topics of "truth" and of "justice" are VERY large ones; people have been thinking, writing, and publishing about them for centuries. For the seven-page paper you're about to write, you'll need to focus more specifically on some specific aspect of truth or justice.

First, be clear and stay consistent in focusing on how truth or justice play out in the United States, specifically. Additionally, decide if you're most interested in one of the following sub-topics as related to truth and justice, and use that as a research focus...


race / ethnicity workplace / labor gender / women's rights
politics / voting economy / economics family dynamics media / news
science / medicine / health environment / ecology law / legislature  

- Have a list of keywords ready

Keep a list of words and concepts that are useful for searching--and keep adding to it! List synonyms, related terms, and alternate spellings.


  • truth, truthfulness, accuracy, reliability, honesty
  • justice, injustice, social justice, integrity, honor, propriety
  • ethics, morals, morality
  • causes, influences, factors
  • consequences, effects
  • social justice, civil rights, equity
  • workplace, labor, employee rights, unions

- Only input one main concept per search line or search box
Use the Advanced Search option in the database, and just put one concept in each search box, like you see in these two examples...

- Change the search terms

The database will look for *exactly* the term you type in. So try a different term to see different results. On the first search, try "advertising." On a second search, try "advertisers." On a third search, try "commercials." See what results are the best for you! [Pro-tip: Search for a set of synonyms all at once, linked with the term "OR." For instance, type into one search box "advertising OR advertisers OR commercials."]

- Too many results? Add another focusing search term, joined to the other search boxes with "AND"

Look at the difference between this search...

...and this one...

- Can't find anything after 20-30 minutes of searching? Then...

  1. Try each of the steps listed above in purple. If that doesn't work...
  2. Close the database, open a different database, and see what you can find there. If you search for 20-30 minutes and find nothing in the second database, then...
  3. Contact a librarian to ask for help!

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