Search Strategies

  • Develop a search statement to search databases (including news databases), Omni, and other academic sources
  • A search statement includes a list of keywords, combined using Boolean Operators (AND; OR; NOT)
    • AND - this will combine concepts, all of which must be found in your list of results
      • media AND children
    • OR - either this concept or that concept (or both). This is helpful for generating a list of synonyms. Use synonyms to anticipate the different ways different authors may refer to the same idea. A thesaurus can be helpful for this
      • internet OR web OR online
    • NOT - do not include this concept
      • advertising NOT magazine
    • Quote marks - find a specific phrase
      • "net neutrality"
    • Truncation - any other combination of letters to follow
      • canad* - will find canada, canadian, canadian's, etc.
      • journalis* - will find journalism, journalist, journalistic, etc.
    • Combine one or more of these operators
    • Put a list of synonyms in brackets
  • For example, my topic is to investigate whether or not smartphones have a negative impact on society. My search statement might look something like this:
    • (smartphone OR "mobile phone" OR "cell phone") AND (societ* OR cultur*)

Academic Sources (use Boolean Operators)

Other Resources

Custom Google Searches

  • Government Information - Canadian or International
  • Think Tank Search - search limited to think tanks dealing in public policy, including NGOs (non-governmental organizations)
    • Tip: these custom searches cannot limit by date of publication, so try including a year in your search (i.e. "social media" 2015)

Newspapers (use Boolean Operators)

Magazines and Trade Publications (use Boolean Operators)

  • Searching Strategies
    • site: - limits your search to a specific site
    • filetype: - limits your search to a specific file type
      • filetype:pdf
      • filetype:ppt
      • filetype:xls
    • OR - ensure it is capitalized
      • tv OR television
    • quote marks for phrases
  • For example:
    • filetype:pdf smartphone
  • If you use Google Scholar, access it via our library
    • this will connect you to resources we have access to, instead of prompting you to pay

Evaluating Your Sources

Citation and Bibliography

Content last reviewed: