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How to Research Guide

Search Strategies

To make your searches more effective, try these methods:

  • Make a list of related terms
  • Use Boolean Operators to include or exclude terms
  • Limit the date range, if this option is available
  • Search for full-text only, if this option is available
  • Use quotation marks if you are searching for a phrase, such as "high stakes testing" or "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
  • Use wildcards
  • Limit to peer reviewed articles if your assignment requires it
  • Try searching by subject

Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators are words that help you craft better searches. 

The operators AND, OR, and NOT are explained below:

AND lets you see where two topics overlap.

venn diagram example of AND searching

OR lets you search for more than one term.

venn diagram example of OR searching

NOT lets you exclude a term.

venn diagram example of NOT searching


Single character variation

Use a question mark in place of a letter to retrieve various spellings.  This is particularly useful if you are not sure how a word or name is spelled.

  • Example:
    Anders?n would retrieve Anderson and Andersen

Keyword variation

Use an asterisk to retrieve various forms of a word.

  • Example:
    legislat* would retrieve legislature, legislate, legislation, etc.

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