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Introduction to College Research Part 2

Improve Your Search Results

Boolean Operators: AND | OR | NOT - Combine these operators to improve your search results.

AND and NOT will return fewer results, while OR will return more results.  


 accounting AND career = articles about both “accounting” and “career”.

accounting OR career = articles that are related to “accounting”  and “career”, but not always both in the same article. Use the OR operator strategically by combining synonyms: career OR vocational

 NOT bookkeeping will remove articles related to bookkeeping from your results list.

Combine these terms to create more complex searches: (accounting  AND ( career OR vocational)) NOT bookkeeping

Put quotations around multiple words to search them as a single phrase, see the last search above. For example, a search for "climate change" will bring return different results than a search for climate change.

Library Terms

Advanced Search Techniques 

Truncation: In many databases, you can use * at the end of a word to search for multiple forms of word: compu* = compute, computed, computes, computer, computers, computing, computation, computations, computational

Subject Terms:  Subject terms in the library catalog or research databases function much like “tags”. Items in the library catalog and research databases are organized by subject. When you find an item that is relevant to your research topic, take a moment to examine the Subject Terms (sometimes called “Descriptors”) that have been applied to the item then use them to refine your search. These terms differ from database to database and are usually impacted by the scope of the database. For example, a medical database will use more specific medical terms than a more general database.