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Search Strategies: Search Histories

Search tips for using DiscoverE, Google, WorldCat, and Databases

Search Histories

The typical search session involves working several different search interfaces or gateways and trying differents sets or combinations of keywords.  Very quickly the researcher can lose track of what had been tried and what worked or didn't work.  Here are a couple methods of tracking your search histories.  You can also use your browser's "history" feature to go back to find a site you visited; sometimes a particular search text and parameters are retained in the url. 

Keep a search journal

Use your preferred note-taking software (e.g., Word, Google Docs, Evernote) to record in shorthand the searches.  In the example below the ">" symbol represents click steps in the respective interfaces and search strings are enclosed in quotation marks.  Sometimes your search is embedded in a reproducible url and you can copy/paste it as a link as in the Google Scholar search link below. 

Here is an example of journal entries for session in which searches were conducted on the same topic:

  1. DiscoverE > Articles > Academic Search Premier > "sermon text barthes" > no results
  2. DiscoverE > Articles > Religion and Philosophy > "sermon text barthes" > no results
  3. DiscoverE > Articles > Religion and Philosophy > "sermon AND barthes" > no results
  4. Databases @ Emory > Religion category > ATLA Religion : "(sermon OR homily OR preaching) AND barthes" > 1 result
  5. Religious Studies Libguide  > Reference works tab > link to online works >
    1. Brill Dictionary of religion > "Sermon" > 1 result
    2. Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices > "sermon AND barthes" > no results
  6. Google Scholar > "sermon and barthes" > many results > nothing obviously relevant in first two pages but one article in jstor reminded me to check there...
  7. Databases @ Emory >JSTOR > "sermon AND barthes" > 1 good result

Open accounts with the search services you use often that offer a search logging feature.

Advantages: searches are logged automatically.


  • You have to look in more than one place to retrace your search session if you, in fact, looked at more than one. 
  • Not every search service offers account and logging.

Services that offer accounts with logging feature:

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