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Montessori High School - Refugee Camps: 2: Search Strategies

A guide to doing research on refugee camps and related topics.

Effective Search Strategies

The easiest way to search for information electronically is to enter a couple of keywords into the search box of the resource and see what type of results you get. However, this strategy will often result in too few, too many, or irrelevant results.

In order to retrieve the most relevant results, try using a combination of keywords. You may also want to try truncation symbols.

Truncation/Wildcard Symbols

Truncation or wildcard symbols can broaden your search and allow you to look for word variations. For example, searching sport* would bring up variations such as sport, sports, sporting, sporty, etc. 

Note: The truncation symbol varies depending on the electronic resource you are searching. For more information, consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages.


Are you finding too much information or perhaps not finding enough? Use alternative, narrower, or broader keywords to vary your results.

Find Background Information

Once you have identified some key terminology, the next step is to find background information on your topic.
Background research serves many purposes.

  • If you are unfamiliar with the topic, it provides a good overview of the subject matter.
  • It helps you to identify important facts related to your topic: terminology, dates, events, history, and names or organizations.
  • It can help you to refine your topic.

Background research might lead you to bibliographies that you can use to find additional sources of information on your topic.

Background information can be found in:

article databases
general or subject-specific encyclopedias

Try the Recommended Background Sources, Reference Universe or Gale Virtual Reference Library, for background information on your topic.

Recommended Background Sources

REFERENCE UNIVERSE indexes the contents of the entire reference collection, both print and electronic, owned by the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Reference Universe

(type any word/phrase, then press enter)

Enter your search terms:
GALE VIRTUAL REFERENCE LIBRARY is a collection of full-text encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources on many different subjects. GVRL is also indexed in Reference Universe.