Search Strategies

Develop a search statement to search databases (including news databases), the catalogue, 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
  • specify a date or a range of dates

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*)

Remember: if searching in a foreign language newspaper, search terms must be in that language

  • Use Google Translate to translate English terms into foreign language
Content last updated: September 12, 2017