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.
Library Reopening Dashboard
Get the latest information on the status of library services and space.
 Ask a Question

Writing 10 (Xu): Search Strategies

College Reading & Composition

Searching in Databases

For more information on Searching in Databases, visit our guided tutorial.

You will be able to

  • identify what a database is and how it is structured.
  • use database functionality to locate information.

banner graphic

How Should I Search in a Database?

Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), Ronald Williams Library, 1:27

  1. What do you enter into the library database search box to start looking for information?
  2. What are some ways you can limit your results?
  3. How do you break down your research question?
  4. What Boolean operator narrows your search?
  5. What Boolean operator expands your search?
  6. What Boolean operator blocks topics in your search?

Phrase Searching


" "

To search for specific phrases, enclose them in quotation marks. The database will search for those words together in that order.


“data scientist”

“COVID-19 surge”

“shortness of breath”

“star wars the force awakens”

Boolean Operators (AND/OR)



Join together search terms in a logical manner.

AND - narrows searches, used to join dissimilar terms
OR - broadens searches, used to join similar terms


COVID-19 AND vaccine


women OR females
“career choice”





Truncate a word in order to search for different forms of the same word. Many database use the asterisk * as the truncation symbol.


Truncate the word education educat* to search for educate, educates, education, educational etc.

Add the truncation symbol to the word medic* to search for medic, medics, medicine, medicines, medical etc.