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Human Information Behavior (17:610:510): Constructing a Search

Library research guide for Human Information Behavior (17:610:510).

Basic Searching Review

For a basic review of topic development, search construction, and evaluating sources, the course guides for some of the writing-intensive courses may be helpful.

How Do I Find an Article? also has some useful advice on turning your initial idea into search terms and then combining those terms.

The Get Help option on the Libraries site is the place to find tutorials, research guides, contact information for librarians who can provide more in-depth help, and other assistance in using library resources. Use Services & Tools for information on how to borrow or otherwise access resources.

Search Terms for HIB

Research is based on vocabulary. Look for all possible terms to broaden your search.

Concepts for "information behavior."

  • information seeking behavior, information seeking, or information behavior
  • reference needs, research needs, or research behavior
  • library use, internet use, or information use
  • information avoidance
  • information overload
  • information use
  • information retrieval
  • information needs
  • information verification
  • information evaluation
  • search strategies, search techniques, or search methods
  • user behavior
  • user studies

Remember that some words have alternate spellings, so you may want to include both "behavior" and "behaviour" in your search terms.

Find Information Related to Your User Group

  • Think about terms that identify the group you've selected. For example:
    • Teachers OR educators OR lecturers OR professors OR instructors, etc.
    • Undergraduates OR college students OR freshmen OR juniors OR millennials, etc.
    Use both broad and narrow terms.
  • You might start your broader search on a topic such as "Information Behavior" in "Africa." You can narrow that search by limiting it to a more specific group such as "women" or to seekers of specific types of information such as "health," Adding additional terms (AND rather than OR) will further narrow the search to reduce the number of results.
  • Think about the types of information a specific user-group needs. Many groups will have information needs that span many subjects and disciplines. For example, nurses may have medical, psychological, interpersonal, and time-sensitive information needs.

Using Research Guides

Research Guides (also known as LibGuides) are put together by librarians to direct you to the most useful databases, journals, and other resources in a specific subject area or discipline. You can access the guides from the Get Help option on the Libraries site.

There are multiple Research Guides available for Library and Information Science and more for Communication. Other subject specific guides will be important if you're interested in information seeking behavior in a particular area (e.g., nutrition or health). Research Guides also link you to the specialist subject librarians at Rutgers. If you have trouble identifying a guide to consult, try using the search box at the top of the main Research Guides page.


  • Use a library science Research Guide to approach your topic from that direction, and then use a Research Guide for the secondary subject to approach your topic from the other direction.
  • You don’t need to restrict yourself to the guides at Rutgers. Try doing a Google search for your topic and just adding LibGuide or Research Guide to the end of the search. You'll find the guides created at Rutgers as well as guides created at other libraries. We may not have all the same resources, but guides created at other libraries can be very helpful, particularly for subjects not covered by the guides at Rutgers. You can also visit the LibGuides Community site to find guides.

Using Wikipedia/Google Effectively

Yes, Wikipedia and Google do have a place in your research – as places to get you started.

  • Use Wikipedia to orient yourself to an unfamiliar topic, then look at the sources they reference (usually at the bottom of an entry) to get to the material you might actually be able to use and cite. This can also help you determine if your topic is a good one, or too narrow or too broad.
  • When you search Google, use limiters that help you find scholarly material or use Google Scholar. Try things like “information seeking behavior hispanic neonatal scholarly.” When you find a good article, you can also use its references to find additional material.
  • Pro tip: Once you find a good scholarly journal article on Google, go back to an appropriate library database and look it up. Within the database entry for the article, you will find the subject headings assigned to it. You can use those as search terms to find more material.

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