It seems simple. Type in a term, get results. But real research is rarely that simple, or straightforward. It may take time, effort, and dead ends before a search strategy yields the results you need. Try some of the tips in the box to the right to make your searches more focused from the start.
Go to the Advanced Search in the catalog, and try these Subject searches:
Take it Apart
When starting a search, most people will type in a phrase, such as: fad diets and weight loss. This may not yield the best results however, since most search engines will start by trying to find the whole phrase, then parse it into individual words. Instead, take your phrase, and pull the key ideas out into keywords. A better search might be: diets AND fad, or, weight control AND diet, etc.
Think Outside the Box
Very often we start with a single term, like "vitamins," and all our searches revolve around that term. Thinking about similar terms, or synonyms, will help find results that you may have missed otherwise. Searching for: (vitamins OR supplements) will yield far more results than a search on just the term 'vitamins". (Don't forget different spellings or terms too! i.e. "carbs" and "carbohydrates")
Let Other People Do the Work
Unlike a search on the web, most catalogs and databases have a controlled vocabulary. This means that at some point a person read the book or article in question, decided what it was about, and assigned very specific subject terms to it. These often appear as part of the citation. By clicking on subject terms, you'll immediately be directed to other similar items. Subject searching is a very powerful search tool - use it.
Step Up to Advanced
Almost every search engine, catalog, and database offers an Advanced Search feature. Most will allow you to search on multiple terms, sort for full-text, date ranges, and type of publication, as well as remove certain types of results from a search (like reviews or editorials).