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Outliers: Search Strategy

Skyline College Library Databases


Focus your topic. Develop a research question. Not too broad, not too specific.

For example:

How should success be defined in relation to opportunity? 

Divide the topic into concepts:



Library Databases

Super Search (library card bar code number required from off-campus)
Search most of Skyline Library's article databases and book catalog to find a wide range of articles from academic journals, popular magazines, newspapers and reference sources, e-books & other documents, plus print books available in the library.

Click on the link above to open a new database window

To search for more than one "concept", click on Advanced Search below the Search box.

In each search box, type the search word(s) for a separate concept.
Type an OR between synonymous words for the same concept.
Use an * to search for multiple words from the same root, e.g. test* will find articles with the words: test, tests, testing, tested
Use quote marks (“ ”) around search phrases (multiple words that should be searched together), e.g. “standardized test*”


success OR "American Dream"

opportunity OR advantage OR disadvantage OR "family background" OR "social class"

academic or life OR income OR employment OR social









































1. Do standardized tests discriminate against minority students?
Divide your research question (or topic) into key ideas (called "concepts"), e.g.:

  • standardized tests
  • discrimination
  • minorities

2. Is a bachelor’s degree still necessary for most individuals to attain a successful life?

  • bachelor’s degree
  • successful life

3. What policies can help students be able to receive their bachelor’s degrees in four years?

  • bachelor’s degree
  • four years
  • policies

4. Should arts and humanities majors be eliminated and STEM majors be promoted?

  • college majors
  • arts and humanities 
  • STEM


Example 1:

"standardized test*" OR "scholastic aptitude test"
discriminat* OR bias* OR racis* OR fair

minorit* OR "African American*" OR black OR hispanic OR latin*

Example 2:

"bachelor’s degree" OR "undergraduate degree" OR "college degree"
"American dream" OR happiness OR "personal satisfaction" OR "life satisfaction" OR income OR employment

Example 3:

"bachelor’s degree" OR "undergraduate degree" OR "college degree"
"four years" OR "time to degree"
policies OR programs

Example 4:

"college majors"
arts OR humanities
STEM OR science OR technology OR engineering
OR math


  • Click the “Search” button to begin a search
  • When the results page is displayed, click on an article title to see detailed information and a summary of the article.
  • To see the full-text of an article, click on PDF Full Text or HTML Full Text at the upper left of the detailed information page
  • To print or e-mail an article, click on the print or e-mail buttons at the right of the article
  • To do a Google search with the same search words already entered, click “Search” in the Google box on the “Extend Your Search” column on the right side of the results page






Additional Resources

Google Scholar
Google’s academic search engine accesses a wide range of academic articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, and universities. The majority of sources retrieved by Google Scholar are usually abstracts (summaries) of articles, which do not provide the full-text of the article (or a significant charge is required for the full article). In many cases, you may be able to retrieve the full-text of these articles by using the Skyline College Library Article Delivery Service.

Use the search box below to search Google Scholar.

Google Scholar

To search for multiple concepts, use ORs between words for the same concept, quotes around phrases, parentheses around each concept, and ANDs between concepts, For example:
 "standardized testing" OR "high stakes tests"  discrimination OR bias OR racism  minorities OR "african american" OR black OR hispanic OR latino