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Writing 001 (Chavez): Search Strategies

Academic Writing

How Should I Search in a Database?

NEIU Library (1:28)

When you search in a database, it's a good idea to use keywords and Boolean Operators (AND, OR, & NOT).

Join Synonyms with OR

The first words you search for may not be the ones that get you the most results. You may want to look for synonyms -- or words that have close to the same meaning -- as the words you've selected to use in your search. You can connect these using the word OR in database search boxes.


celebrity OR famous

college OR university OR "higher education"

"serial killing" OR murder OR homicide

Note on terminology: sometimes, you may have to try terms that are outdated and/or pejorative to find relevant research. Authors don't all use the same terminology, and terms change over time.

Combine Topics with AND

You can connect different topics using the word AND in database search boxes.


"childhood trauma" AND "violent crime"

"antisocial personality disorder" AND violence

hedonism AND neurology

Phrase Searching with Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks around two or more words that you want to appear as a phrase.


"serial killer"

"death penalty"

"John Wayne Gacy"