Search Tips - Best practices for searching library databases
The Library databases have different search interfaces, but they do share basic search principles. Some of these principles are listed below.
It is good practice to look for the [Advanced Search] option in each database that you use. The advanced search page will usually make it very clear as to how you can control your search using Boolean search techniques, limiters, field searching, etc.
Boolean Searching is the cornerstone to an effective search strategy. Boolean searching refers to searching using a combination of words and the three Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT. A best practice is to capitalize your Boolean Operators.
AND will make your search smaller. If you are retrieving too many records on your topic, try adding another search term with the operator AND.
For example: "krispy kreme" AND marketing
OR will make your search bigger. If you are retrieving too few records on your topic, try adding another search term with the operator OR.
For example: (adolescents OR teenagers)
NOT will exclude a word from your search results. If you are retrieving too many records on an unrelated topic, try eliminating a word with the operator NOT.
For example: dolphins NOT football
To search for two or more words in the exact order in which they are entered you should enclose the phrase in quotation marks " ".
For example: "obsessive compulsive disorder"
Truncation allows you to search the root form of a word with all its different endings by adding a symbol to the end of a word. Truncation symbols vary by database (check the help screens or ask a Librarian), but are usually one of the below:
! (exclamation point)
? (question mark)
For example: advertis* will search for advertise, advertisement, advertising, advertises
Field Searching & Limiters
Each database has a variety of predefined fields or limiters that you can search within. Some examples of fields and limiters are:
scholarly or peer-reviewed
Scholarly and Peer-Reviewed Sources
Has your professor required you to use scholarly or peer-reviewed sources? Here is the basic definition.
Scholarly Publication: A journal that contains articles which have been reviewed by a panel of subject specialists or experts prior to their publication. Another term for a scholarly publication is “peer reviewed”.
If you need any help identifying a scholarly publication, please see your Professor or a Reference Librarian.
Get Research Help
Book a Research Consultation
For more in depth research projects, personalized reference consultations are available.
Please note that consultations:
- Take about 30 to 60 minutes.
- Occur during normal Reference Librarian Hours.
- Need at least 24 hours advanced notice.
A librarian will contact you to confirm your consultation.