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Fiat Lux: What Else Can I Do to Improve my Search?

This is a copy of a guide created by Lindsay Davis while working at UC Merced. She presented this series at SCIL Works 2019.

Connect Your Search Terms with Boolean Operators (AND & OR)

Use OR to broaden your search.

For example, if you search advertising OR commercials, you will find articles that include either term.

Boolean - OR

Use AND to narrow your search.

For example, if you search advertising AND commercials, you will only find articles that include both terms.

Boolean - AND

Use NOT to exclude results with certain words.

If you search advertising NOT commercials, you will find articles that include the word advertising except for those that also include the term commercials. In Google, use a minus sign instead of NOT (e.g. advertising -commercials).

Boolean - NOT

Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies

Find Phrases with Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to search for a phrase (two words or more).

  • college students
  • “mental health”
  • “sleep habits”

Find Different Word Variations with Truncation

Use a truncation symbol (the asterisk * is the most common) to look for different word endings.

  • educat* = education, educator, educated, etc.
  • colleg* = college, colleges, collegium, etc.
  • politic* = politic, politics, political, etc.

You do have to be careful with truncation. Sometimes you might get unexpected results.

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