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Undergraduate Research Programs (UROC): Search Strategies

How should I search in a database?

What search strategies are mentioned?  Have you used any of these?

* from Northeastern Illinois University


Search Topic: I am interested in finding out more about how different human activities can be tracked.

Use the search topic above to answer the following questions.

  1. Is the search (A, B, C or D), logical and accurate based on the original topic?  If not, explain why.
  2. Which search doe you think is most effective (even though we haven't tried it in a database)?

For Further Discussion:

  • Based on the search topic given above, how might search X be improved?
  • If Search C gave you too many results, how might you narrow it down?
  • If Search D gave you too few results, how might you broaden it?

Search A:

“human motion” AND “human activity”

Search B:

shoppers OR "human identification"

Search C:

"human motion" OR "human activity



Search D:

"human motion" OR human activity




store* OR shop*

Search Tips

A. Boolean Operators

OR is mORe (joins similar terms)  e.g. cognitive OR brain

AND is less (joins dissimilar terms) e.g. mosquitoes AND Zika

Sample Search Using both AND and OR

"eating habits" OR diet


"college athletes"

B. Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to search for a phrase

  • "stem cell"
  • "Paget's Disease"
  • "frontal temporal dementia"

C. Truncation

Use a symbol, the asterisk * is the most common, to look for variant endings of a word

  • immun* will search for immune, immunity, immunization, etc.
  • metabol* will search for metabolic, metabolism, metabolically, etc.

Search Terms are Important