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In library research, using structured mechanisms such as a catalog, search engine, database, etc., either online or print-based, to find information relevant to a topic or project.

Search Engine

Software and programming created to retrieve information from a database, computer, or the Internet.

Examples: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Milner Catalog, Academic Search Premier.

Search Strategy

A plan or set of steps for conducting a search. Learn more about the Search Process.


  1. Selecting search terms that represent the main concepts of a research question or thesis statement.
  2. Select appropriate search engines or databases for the topic.
  3. Identify subject heading(s) from search results.
Search Term

A word or phrase typed into an online catalog, database, or search engine to retrieve relevant information. Learn more about picking search terms.

Secondary Source

Items that interpret, critique, or analyze information, content, or findings of primary sources about a specific topic.

  1. Any item used to glean or expand knowledge about a topic or discipline.
  2. During library research, these are used to support one’s thesis statement or answer a research question.
  3. A specific item cited or listed in a bibliography of a paper, speech, presentation, project, etc.