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Research Process: How to Search

This guide focuses on the skills and resources needed to complete a research project.

All-in-One Search

 

 Databases | Classic Catalog | Remote Access | Help                                

 

 Databases | Classic Catalog | Remote Access | Help                                

 

 Databases | Classic Catalog | Remote Access | Help                                

 

 Databases | Classic Catalog | Remote Access | Help                                

 

 Databases | Classic Catalog | Remote Access | Help                                

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OR / AND

When searching a database, the Boolean connector OR will expand your search. For example take a look at how many results come from the search "music OR videos":

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On the other hand, AND will narrow your search. For example, notice how this differs from a search using the Boolean connector AND instead.

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Quotation Marks

Quotation marks (" ") are used when you want to search an exact phrase of two or more words. For example, if you were searching a database for information on chicken pox, this is what the search may look like without the use of quotation marks:

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However, if you searched "chicken pox" using the quotation marks, the search will bring back only those articles that have that exact phrase in that exact order:

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What is Boolean Searching?

Boolean searches allow you to combine words and phrases using Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) to limit, widen, or define your search.

 

Nesting

If you wanted to do research on the suicide rates among women in higher education, you may start off by doing a search that looks like this:

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However, you could use a technique called "nesting" to either expand or narrow your search as needed. Nesting can help you formulate more complicated searches by using parentheses to contain certain terms. Nesting can also help you fine-tune your search to include alternate terms. This is especially helpful when a search contains a number of words can be used to express the same concept.

For example, you could change the search to include both the key words "college" and "university." This would expand your search slightly, giving your a greater pool of articles to search from. You could also include another descriptive key word such as "females"


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NOT

The Boolean connector NOT is a tricky one to use, but in certain cases it can be very useful. NOT will filter out certain key terms from your search, which can narrow your search considerably. It can be helpful if some of your search terms can be used for two unrelated searches. For example, say you would like some information on the book The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. When you search "Hunger Games," you get results for both the book and for the movie based on the book.

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What happens if you are only interested in information about the book by Suzanne Collins? You could try this:

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Remember, however, that this will also filter out any article that talks about both the book and the movie. If someone wrote an article comparing the two, using NOT the way it is used in this last example will filter out those kinds of articles from your search as well.