Improving Your Search Strategy
After you have done some background reading and formulated your research question it is time to begin searching in some of our databases for articles. This tutorial will help you learn how to select keywords and improve your search strategy.
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How Boolean Searching Works
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Combining Search Terms
Different authors use different words to describe similar concepts. When searching for information, it is best to use 2-3 concept keywords instead of your entire topic question or a sentence. The connecting words ("operators") used in computer searching are AND, OR, and NOT
Research Question : "Does fracking cause water pollution?"
|hydraulic fracturing||underground water||contamination|
|drilling for natural gas||aquifers||toxins|
|natural gas wells||wells||carcinogens|
|directional drilling||domestic water supply||flammable water|
(fracking OR directional drilling) AND (aquifers OR wells OR water supply) AND (pollution OR toxins OR carcinogens)
Research Question : "What factors influence identity in multiracial adolescents?"
(multiracial OR biracial) AND (identity OR self-concept) AND (adolescen* OR teen*)
Narrowing your Topic
Now that you have some background information and some keywords it is time to narrow down your topic.
Search Strategy Builder
The Search Strategy Builder is a tool designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. While it is not a database and is not designed to input a search, you should be able to cut and paste the results into most databases’ search boxes.
Now copy and paste the above Search Strategy into a database search box.