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Use this guide to learn about the research process and plan your research project.

Welcome to the Research Planning Guide

Keywords, Titles, Authors, Journal Titles, Subjects, and ISBNs

Here's an explanation of the pros and cons of each and what each search type is best used for:

Type of Search Pros Cons Best For
Title Search
  • Narrows results
  • Great for searching for journals, magazines, or periodicals by their title
  • Finds a specific book title
  • You need the EXACT title (or at least the exact beginning words of the title)
  • The catalog is confused by punctuation so leave out that colon or dash
  • If you have the exact title—this is the surest way to see if we own a book or other work (other than musical scores—visit our Scores page in the Music LibGuide to learn more)
Author Search
  • Narrows results
  • Returns only books written by that person (not anything with his/her name in it)
  • Do you have the name spelled correctly? If not, you will get no results, or the wrong author.
  • Getting a complete list of the books we own written by that author
Subject Search
  • Narrows results
  • Will lead you to other topic terms you may not have thought of
  • Returns books which are really about your topic, not just about it in a general way
  • You need to know the exact form of the subject heading
  • Very focused terms may return too few results (but you can easily browse for similar subject terms)
  • When you know what you want and you don't want anything else