Search Techniques

Search Terms

Identify the main concepts of your research topic.

  • Example:
    • What are the variables affecting sustainable water systems?

Think of synonyms for each concept.

  • Example:
    • sustainable = sustainability
    • water = hydro

Boolean Operators

AND

Boolean AND example image

To find articles which contain all of your concepts:

  • Combine them with AND
  • Using AND narrows your search
  • The more words you combine with AND, the less results you will retrieve
  • Example:
    • sustainability AND water

OR

Boolean OR example image

To find articles which contain any of your keywords:

  • Combine them with OR
  • Using OR expands your search
  • The more words you combine with OR, the more results you will retrieve
  • Example:
    • (water OR hydro) AND sustainability

Phrase Searching

To find an exact phrase use quotation marks.

  • Example:
    • "sustainable energy"

Truncation

Truncation, also called stemming, is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings.

  • Both the singular and plural forms of a word
  • Words that begin with the same word stem
  • Truncation symbols vary by database; common symbols include: *, ?, #, $
  • Example:
    • sustainab* = sustainable, sustainability

Filters

  • Controlled vocabulary/Subject heading
  • Date
  • Document type
Content last reviewed: January 18, 2021