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Fowler Essay Guide: Search Strategies

Quick Tips for Database Searching

Online Research Search Strategies

Search Strategies

Boolean searching is the traditional way to search for information in most online databases and on the Internet. Boolean operators are connector words (AND, OR, and NOT) used to create phrases and concepts.  

 

Operator Examples Results
AND first generation AND students Retrieves records that contain ALL of the search terms.
OR female OR woman OR girl Retrieves records that contain ANY of the search terms, but does not necessarily include all of them. Use with similar terms
NOT native American NOT India Excludes records containing the second search term. Use with caution.

 

Truncation - gives you the ability to enter the first part of a keyword, insert a symbol (usually an *) and find any variant spellings or word endings. Example: child* -- finds child, children, childless.

Nesting - uses parenthesis as a way of organizing your search terms (keywords and phrases) by placing them in parenthesis. Example: Dallas AND (football OR basketball) - finds sources on either sport in Dallas.

Exact match - uses quotation marks to find the exact phrase within search results. Example "first generation".

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