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Child Development: Basic Database Search Strategies

Identify Keywords

The databases simply match the words you enter in the search box. Not all authors use the same language to describe similar topics, so you will need to try a variety of searches.

  • Create a list of possible words that could appear in a book or article related to your topic.
  • Come up with synonyms or related terms.
  • Stick to using 2-4 nouns when searching.


  • children = preschoolers, young children, toddlers, infants, babies, etc.
  • health = safety, allergies, disease, flu, well-being, etc.

Connect Keywords with AND, OR, NOT

Using AND, OR, and NOT with keywords can help broaden or narrow your search.


joins dissimilar terms; helps narrow your search


"child development" AND play

joins similar terms; helps broaden your search


“child development” OR "human development"

excludes terms; helps narrow your search


college NOT "graduate students"

Use AND & OR together, as well.

“child development” OR "human development"

AND play

Find Phrases with Quotation Marks

  • child development
  • “nutritional value”
  • consumer health

Use Truncation to Find Word Variations

The asterisk * is the most common truncation symbol.

  • educat* = education, educator, educated, etc.
  • child* = child, children, childhood, etc.

You do have to be careful because you might get unexpected results.

  • minor = minor, minors, minority, minorities, minoritized, etc.

How Library Stuff Works: How to Choose Keywords

How Library Stuff Works: Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)