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Student Assistants Research 101: Search Tips

Accessing Full-Text

Full-text may be immediately available via a pdf or html page.  If not, use the UCeLinks button to reach a request page. 

You can Interlibrary Loan the item using your UCMnetID. 

Database Name vs Provider

Different Databases = Different Information

EBSCOhost = database provider, not database name

Academic Search Complete = database name, not database provider

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean operators are words you can use between your search terms to either broaden or limit your search.

Use OR to broaden your search. For example, if you search advertising OR commercials, you will find articles that include both terms.

Boolean - OR


In contrast, use AND and NOT to narrow your search. For example, if you search advertising AND commercials, you will only find articles that include both terms.

Boolean - AND

And, if you search advertising NOT commercials, you will find articles that include the word advertising except for those that also include the term commercials. In Google, use a minus sign instead of NOT (e.g. advertising -commercials).

Boolean - NOT

Search Strategies

Determine the key ideas and terms in your topic. Example: I am interested in the marketing psychology aimed at teenagers .
Think of synonyms or related terms. "marketing psychology" / "consumer psychology" / "advertising psychology"
teenagers / teens / adolescents / young adults
Select useful resources to search. Databases > Subject > Psychology (other subject areas may include Business & Economics)
Construct a search strategy.  Start with keyword searching. Many databases default to a keyword search field.
Look for a phrase, using quotation marks. "marketing psychology" / "consumer psychology" / "advertising psychology"
Join similar terms with OR "marketing psychology" OR "consumer psychology" OR "advertising psychology"
Join dissimilar terms with AND

("marketing psychology" OR "consumer psychology" OR "advertising psychology") AND (teenagers OR adolescents)

Truncate a term (usually *) teen* (to search for teen, teens, teenagers)


Additional Strategies:

  • Look for other terms and phrases to describe your topic from the literature you find.
  • Depending on what you initially find, consider broadening or narrowing your topic.
  • Take advantage of "controlled vocabulary" e.g. descriptors, subject terms when they are available.
  • Some databases have "See related materials" links.
  • Limit your search if needed e.g. by date, by format, the field being search.
  • Examine the bibliographies for relevant materials.
  • Sort results by relevance if this is not the default.  e.g. In some databases the default is by most recent date.
  • Find a great article?  See who else has cited it

Search Tips

Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to search for a phrase

  • "affirmative action"
  • "social media"
  • "political correctness"



Use a symbol (* is the most common) to look for variant endings of a word

  • educat* will search for education, educator, educating, etc.
  • colleg* finds college, collegium, collegial
  • politic* will search for politic, politics, political, politicly, etc.

Some databases also allow you to use a symbol at the beginning or in the middle of a word

  • behavi*r will search for behavior or behaviour
  • *politic will search overpolitic, prepolitic, pseudopolitic, etc.