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Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 2f. Search Strategies

This guide walks you through the steps of the research process.

Tip!

Are you finding too much or not enough information? Try using boolean operators and truncation symbols, or use alternative, narrower, or broader keywords to vary your results.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are connector words, such as AND, OR, and NOT, that are used to combine or exclude words in a search string for more focused results. 

Operator Examples Results
AND

business AND ethics

cooking AND Spain

Results contain    
ALL of the search terms.
OR

hotels OR motels

www OR world wide web

theater OR theatre

Results contain ANY of the search terms, but not necessarily all of them.
NOT

java NOT coffee

Clinton NOT Bill

Excludes results containing
the second search term.

Truncation

Truncation or wildcard symbols allow you to look for variations of words. They often broaden your search results.

Asterisk - For example, searching on sport* would bring up variations such as sport, sports, sporting, sporty, etc. 

Parentheses - Another example is using parentheses with a keyword phrase such as "climate change" would search for the words climate and change together not separately.

Note: The truncation symbol varies by database. Consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages for details.

Boolean Operator Examples