Q. I can't find anything about my topic. What should I do?


There may be a number of issues at play if you find that your research efforts are not yielding desirable results. Here are some hints for finding sources.

  • Know where you are searching and what content it is good for. The library catalog is great for finding books, but it is not good for finding academic journal articles. Print books are inaccessible during the campus shut down from March 16 - May 20, 2020, so use the the library's Ebook Academic Collection database to find books during this time. Conversely, Academic Search Premier is a great resource for finding academic journal articles, but does poorly if you are trying to find books.
  • Use synonyms of the main ideas for which you are searching. This worksheet is a good way of organizing your main ideas and their synonyms into different keywords.
  • Try using quotes " " around multi-word search phrases. Instead of searching for organic food, search for "organic food". Using "quotes" around your search phrase will make it so you will only get results that match the exact phrase around which you put quotes.

Students are welcome and encouraged to contact the librarians at the Bess and Frank Gladhill Learning Commons via our virtual Ask a Librarian service.

The video below discusses the strategic process of searching.


  • Last Updated Mar 24, 2020
  • Views 15
  • Answered By Daniel Gallaher

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