Research Tip Sheet: Video Tutorial

To systematically search most of our databases including the search box on the library's homepage you need to create what is called a search statement. This is different from how you would search Google. This video will demonstrate a simple example, but the underlying logic will apply to whatever topic you are researching. A search statement is what you type into a library database. It is made up of keywords combined using Boolean Operators, things like AND and OR. So, for example to learn about the impact of smartphones on society you might build your search statement as follows. AND means all key words or concepts must be found in your list of results. So, in this case smartphone and society. OR will find any keyword or concept. This is helpful for listing synonyms: different words that refer to the same idea. So, for example searching for smart phone OR mobile phone OR cell phone will find at least one of these words or phrases in your list of results. This is also a good strategy for when you anticipate different authors using different vocabulary. In Canada we typically say smartphone but maybe authors in the U.K. use the phrase mobile phone instead. You'll also notice that I've capitalized the AND and OR. Not only does this make the operators stand out on screen but some databases require that they be capitalized in order to function as an operator. Quote marks will find two or more words always together. Truncation, or the asterisk, captures any combination of letters to follow, and so in this case societ with an asterisk is going to find the word society, societies, societal and so forth. Brackets isolate a concept and so in this case society or culture. Putting them all together based on our keywords of smartphone and society we might begin searching with the following search statement. In brackets somewhere in our list of results we want to find reference to either smartphone mobile phone OR cell phone along with reference to society OR culture. Using search statements is a process not a one-shot deal and so try adding keywords and see how the results look take keywords away and search again and over time you will end up with a more focused list of results.