Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
COVID-19 Library Dashboard
Get the latest information on the status of library services and space.
 Ask a Question

Writing 10 (Maharaj): Search Tips

Searching is...

exploration, inquiry, discovery, curiosity, serendipity

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean operators such as AND (narrows) and OR (broadens) are used to join search terms together.

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

Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks are used to search for a specific phrase. They limit or narrow your search.

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

Truncation

Truncation allows a search engine to look for variant endings of a word. Use a symbol (* is the most common) at the end of a truncated word. Truncation broadens or expands your search.

  • 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

  • col*r will search for color or colour
  • *politic will search overpolitic, prepolitic, pseudopolitic, etc.

Mash them Up

You can use multiple search strategies simultaneously.

Example:

"health care"

AND

cost*

AND

elderly OR retired

Question 1

What search search strategies are used?  Are they used logically?

Research Question:  What role does food marketing play in obesity?

obesity

AND

"food marketing"

Question 2

What search search strategies are used?  Are they used logically?

Research Question: How can cyber attacks be minimized in the banking sector?

"cyber warfare" OR "cyber attacks"

AND

banking

Question 3

What search search strategies are used?  Are they used logically?

Research Question: Do U.S. criminal laws for drug control overstep human rights?

"United States"

AND

"criminal law"

AND

human rights