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Writing 001 (Porter): 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.


Latinos OR Hispanics

college OR university OR "higher education"

"undocumented immigrants" OR "illegal immigrants"

Note on terminology: sometimes, you may have to try terms that are outdated and/or pejorative to find relevant research.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.


immigrants AND economy

tuition AND "college completion"

"police brutality" AND "African Americans"

Phrase Searching with Quotation Marks

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


"border wall"

"death penalty"

"physician-assisted suicide"