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Starting Your Research Series

Crafting a Search String

To Do: Watch this video below (1:22) about searching databases using keywords and search strategies. While watching, consider what strategies would work best with your keywords.



Keywords and Boolean Logic- BYU Library Online Learning (1:22)

Your keywords, in combination with these strategies, will create your search statement or search string. You can combine multiple strategies into a single search string.

Many library databases, such as Academic Search Complete, will help you create your search string by providing multiple search bars for your keywords, along with dropdown menus that contain Boolean operations.

Screenshot of Academic Search Complete (ACS) search rows. ACS by default provides 3 rows.

To Do: Take a few minutes to experiment with different keywords and search strategies in Academic Search Complete.  Note how different combinations of keywords and strategies affect the number of search results and the relevancy of resources retrieved.


When working in a database with multiple search bars, enter keywords for your different concepts on separate search bars. Enter your synonyms and related terms in the same search bar, as in the above example.

Click Next to check your understanding of the key steps to searching library databases by taking short quiz.