Search Techniques

1. Select keyword search terms for your topic

  • Choose words that represent the key concepts of your research topic or question
  • Sample: How can energy efficiency measures improve the campus living environment?

2. Create a search string using Boolean operators

  • Sample: "energy efficiency" AND (university OR college) AND campus AND environment*

  •   --> think of synonyms for each concept
  •   --> use AND operator to search multiple ideas and phrases
  •   --> use brackets with OR operator to group synonyms
  •   --> use truncation symbol * (asterisk) to replace word endings or variant spellings
  •   --> use quotation marks to ensure that words are searched together as a phrase

3. Select a Database from the subject-specific databases for Environmental Studies

4. Use database filters - to obtain high quality, academic literature, remember to refine your search by selecting the following filters:

  • scholarly & peer-review
  • content type - journal article
  • subject (on your specific topic)
  • date

Tip 1: Filter your search to find scholarly journal articles. Note: many other sources are published in different formats and written for specific audiences and they do not all have solid authority as with the scholarly, peer reviewed literature.

Tip 2: Check the bibliographies of journal articles to find additional relevant sources.

Tip 3: If you are unsure if a journal is scholarly and peer reviewed, check Ulrichsweb. It is the definitive source that lets you know what type of journal you are using by 'content type'.

Content last reviewed: September 19, 2018