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Research 101 : Search for Resources

Search like a Pro

How do I search for resources?

There are many different searching methods available to make sure you get back the most relevant search results.

Keyword searching is the most common way to search when using your database's advanced search options.

Type in your keywords and then use:

  • AND to narrow: Use AND to combine keywords and phrases. This will narrow your results to only what you are looking for.
    *An example: animal testing and cosmetics.
  • OR for more: Use OR to combine keywords and phrases and expand your results.
    *An example: make-up or beauty products.
  • NOT to exclude: Use NOT to exclude keywords and phrases.
    *An example: dogs not cats.

Phrase searching uses quotation marks so that your results will include exactly what is inside the phrase.
*An example is searching “animal testing.” Although you will get results containing “animal testing” you are excluding valuable alternative wording like animal experiments and animal tests. 

Truncation searching is a great way to search when there are many ways to end a word. Truncation uses wildcards (usually a question mark or exclamation point) to search for all alternative spellings or endings of the word.  
*An example is child*. Child* will bring up child, children, childhood, and any other word that starts with the root "child." This works in most databases.

*Another example is mobili?ation. Mobili?ation will return both mobilization and mobilisation as alternative spellings. If you do not use truncation and wildcards, some databases will look for an exact match to the words you typed, and you may miss some relevant results.

TIP: Just make sure not to shorten the root word too much, or you will bring up irrelevant items (soc* can bring up society, social, socioeconomic, and Socrates).

Keys for Searching with Keywords

Identify your keywords. Your keywords are the focus of your question. Keywords help you get back relevant results from your search that may have otherwise been missed because the author used different wording.
*An example: How has the negative view on animal testing affected the cosmetic industry? The keywords are animal testing and cosmetic industry.

After identifying your main keywords, you should then list some alternative keywords.
*An example for animal testing and cosmetic industry would be animal experimentation, cosmetics, make-up or beauty products. Most databases will automatically come up with alternative keywords you can use to help you search when using the advanced search option.