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InfoSkills for Humanities & Digital Sciences

InfoSkills @ TiU

Effective searches

Search technique summary

Search technique Explanation Example
AND Boolean operator combines all search terms mother AND father
OR Boolean operator finds either search term salary OR wage
NOT Excludes term to the right of the operator pepsi NOT coke
Nesting Indicates order of search; items in () are found first (mouse OR rat) AND trap
Phrase searching Searches for words in the order entered "social media"
Truncation Searches for the root word and various endings teen*
Wildcard Searches for a single character within / at the end of a word wom?n
Field searching Searching within a specific field of a record Entering 'rowling' in the Author field to find documents written by the author Rowling
Limiters/filters Narrowing a search (results) according to certain criteria Using the 'Peer reviewed' filter to retrieve only peer reviewed documents

Creating searches that work

An effective database search is a combination of well-chosen search terms, applying the search techniques listed above. 

Example 

Topic: prevention of youth crime. A database search could be: 

prevent* AND ("youth crim*" OR "juvenile delinquen*") 

Example 

Topic: impact of television viewing on aggressive behavior in children. A possible database search:

(television OR TV) AND (“aggressive behavio?r” OR aggression)  AND (child* OR kid?)