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Research Tips and Tricks

This Tips and Tricks research guide provides information on how to perform a search, ranging from how to choose what type of search to make, how to string key words together, and what to do with texts once you've found them.

And, Or, Not: Boolean Operators

And: narrowest 

Or: widest

Not: in the middle

Boolean operators can widen or narrow your search by combining search terms/key words in different ways. 

  • Cats and dogs
    • Any article mentioning cats and dogs in the same place
  • Cats or dogs
    • Any article mentioning cats, dogs, or both (but not necessarily both)
  • Cats not dogs
    • Any article mentioning cats without talking about dogs

Example search using Academic Search Premier:

  • college athletes and salary
    • 173 results
  • college athletes or salary
    • 84,591 results
  • college athletes not salary
    • 7,950 results

Quotation Marks (These Words in This Order)

A set of quotation marks around a search term/key term indicates that you want those exact words in that exact order; that is, when entering "Alaskan husky," I am not searching for "Alaskan" and "husky," but I am searching for "Alaskan husky." 

Academic Search Premier results:

Alaskan husky:49 results

"Alaskan husky:" 17 results

Alaskan husky dog with blue eyes

Photo credit: Rachel Hammer

Asterisk (the Word Ending Wildcard)

An asterisk indicates that a word has multiple endings, and you'd like to search for all forms of the word. A common example is "child." Forms include "children," "childish," "childlike," "childhood," and many more. If I search for "child*", the search engine will give me results for all forms of the word, not just "child."

Academic Search Premier search examples:

child AND dog: 7,049 results 

child* AND dog: 7,794 results

Parentheses (Nesting Phrases)

Use parentheses when using multiple Boolean operators in one search. Much like quotation marks link two words, parentheses link two search terms with one Boolean operator. 

For example, if my key terms are "husky" and "malamute" as well as "Iditarod," I will enter the search as follows:

(husky OR malamute) AND Iditarod

Alaskan huskies pulling a summer sled over grass with dandelions

Photo credit: Rachel Hammer