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Environmental Engineering 10 (Sullivan): Search Strategies

1) AND/OR (Boolean Logic)

Use AND / OR to join search terminology.

  • OR - joins similar terms / terms that get at the same issue - BROADENS
  • AND - joins dissimilar terms - NARROWS

Examples: Using OR

  1. "solar panel" OR "photovoltaic cell"
  2. hydropower OR "hydroelectric energy"
  3. "dry steam power station" OR "flash steam power station"
  4. "wind energy" OR "wind power" OR "wind turbine"

Examples: Using AND

  1. "geothermal energy" AND "storage"
  2. "hydroelectric power" AND generation AND turbine

Examples using AND & OR

Sample Search A

"solar panel" OR "photovoltaic cell"


"power generation"

Question: What strategy might we take if Sample A returns too many results?  How could we modify this search?

Phrase Searching ""

It is common to search for a specific phrase with "quotation marks ".  Most databases will recognize the using of quotation marks to search for two works together.

Examples: " "

  • "hydroelectric power station"
  • "solar panel"
  • "wind power"
  • "biogas digester"

Phrase searching ensures that you won't be searching for the individuals words within the phrase, which could return a lot of irrelevant results. 


Search for alternate forms of a work by truncating it and adding an asterisk *.

Examples: *

  1. hydro* > hydroelectric, hydrology, hydropower...
  2. bio* > biology, biological, bioinformatic...
  3. perform* > perform, performs, performing, performance...

Truncation BROADENS

You can use truncation to search for all suffixes on a root work. Be careful though, some complete words might be related to topics outside of your research interest.