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Writing 101 (Toconis): Basic Search Strategies

Writing in the Disciplines: Psychology

Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies

Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to search for a phrase (two words or more).

  • college students
  • “mental health”
  • generalized anxiety disorder


Use AND to join dissimilar terms. It helps narrow your search.

"college students" AND stress

Use OR to join similar terms. It helps broaden your search.

“college students” OR undergraduates

Use AND and OR together, too.

“college students” OR undergraduates

AND stress


Use a truncation symbol (the asterisk * is the most common) to look for different word endings.

  • educat* = education, educator, educated, etc.
  • colleg* = college, colleges, etc.

You do have to be careful with truncation. Sometimes you might get unexpected results.

  • minor*= minor, minors, minority, minorities, etc.