Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


A beginner's guide to library research for students working on FYRE projects in INQ 101!

Search Strategy Builder

 Search Strategy Builder

The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases’ search boxes.

  Concept 1 AND Concept 2 AND Concept 3
Name your concepts here (Keywords)    
Search terms Search terms Search terms
List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

Use single words or short phrases. Surrounding the phrases with quotation marks will give better results in some databases and search engines, like Google Scholar. Example: "global warming"













Now copy and paste the above Search String into Southern Search!

The Search Strategy Builder was developed by the University of Arizona Libraries and is used under a Creative Commons License, via Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh at Georgia State.

How Do I Find Out What the Library Has?

To find out what's available to you through Buley Library, use SouthernSearch. Always remember to log in first so the information in your results will be personalized. Once you've done a search, you can refine it based on Available at SCSU, Resource Type, Subject, Author, and more!

Books (and other physical stuff)

Let's see what Buley has on zombies...

Screenshot of SouthernSearch search screen with zombies typed into the search box

35,418 results! Who knew? But that's too many to look through. We need to narrow it down. One way is to click on the Available at SCSU option on the left-hand side, which will only show us things physically present in the library building. Let's try it...

Screenshot of the results of the zombies search in SouthernSearch. The number of results and option to limit to Available at SCSU are circled for emphasis.

There, that's better. Only 40 results now! Notice that each result tells you the item's Type (in this case they're all books), Title, Author, Publication Information, Availability, Location, and Call Number. If you want to narrow things down even more, you can use the Subject filter on the left. Confused? Ask a librarian!

Screenshot of SouthernSearch search for zombies limited to what's available at SCSU. The call numbers and locations of the first three books are circled for emphasis, as is the limiter for Subjects on the left-hand side.

Which Floor?

SouthernSearch will tell you an item's location and call number, but how do you know which floor it's on? Check out the Buley Library Floorplan!

What About eBooks?

You can use SouthernSearch for ebooks, too! Just choose "Books" as your filter, and any results you see with Full Text Available are ebooks!

SouthernSearch search results for zombies, limited to all books. The availability tag Full Text Available is circled for emphasis.


To find content from encyclopedias and other reference sources, limit your results to Reference Entries under Resource Type (you may have to expand the list to see it).

SouthernSearch search results page with the Resource Type menu expanded and the Reference Entries option circled.

Articles (from journals, magazines, newspapers...)

If you want to find articles using SouthernSearch, choose "Articles" as your Resource Type on the left-hand side. Each result will tell you that it's an article, whether it's peer-reviewed, how to get it, and in the top right-hand corner how to cite it.

SouthernSearch search results for "zombies" with articles filter selected. The resource type, peer-reviewed status, availability, and citation tools are circled for emphasis.

Academic/Scholarly Sources

Sometimes your professors will require you to use only scholarly and/or peer reviewed sources. Scholarly sources are written for an academic audience and almost always include references to other works. Peer reviewed sources are scholarly sources that have been approved by other knowledgeable people in the field. Notice that SouthernSearch will let you limit to content from peer-reviewed journals!

SouthernSearch search results filtered by Peer-reviewed Journals. Peer-reviewed Journals is circled in the filers colum and as an example on one of the search results.

What About Google?

Did you know that you can use a Google interface to search for scholarly articles? And that it will tell you when those articles are available through SCSU, both on campus and off? Just change your Library Links under Settings to Southern! Want more info? Click here.

Google Scholar Search