Pay-per-search electronic search worksheet

You will often not know whether the reference question you refer requires a detailed electronic search. A comprehensive reference interview that concentrates on finding the patronís underlying need is the most helpful way to refer these questions. As patrons become more aware of databases that might be available on a pay-per-search basis, some may specifically request searches of these electronic databases. You need to refer to your own library's policies about how these are handled.

If you do take a request to search a database that isnít free in your library, it helps to ask the following questions in addition to the regular questions you always ask in a reference interview.

  1. What synonyms or other terms does the patron know that relate to the subject?




  2. How much information is the patron expecting? One or two items? An extensive list?






  3. Does the patron want material within certain time periods? Is there a range of years or months?


  4. Does the patron want only English language articles?


  5. Does the patron need abstracts or the entire articles?


  6. Can the patron use references to very technical articles, or should they be limited to general ones?


  7. How much, if anything, is the patron willing to pay? [Check your library's policy.]


Go to Regional reference nodes in Minnesota.

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This page was updated October 26,2003.