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Research Help: Search Strategies

This guide will help aid you through the research process.

Why do I need a strategy to search?

Used to typing in a phrase in Google and getting results?  You could do this in a library database, but you'll be sifting through unnecessary and irrelevant results if you do.  Having a strategy simply helps you make the most of your research the first time around.

What will having a search strategy do for you?

  • Make your research more efficient & effective.
  • Save time--you won't have to sift through thousands of results to find one good article!
  • Get you better results, and therefore a better grade.

Using Limits in Your Search

What are limits and why use them?

Limits are helpful in focusing your search.  Once you've done your initial search you can use some limits to help you narrow your results to a more manageable amount of information.

  • Date:  limit results to a specific time frame
  • Peer review:  limit to only peer-reviewed articles
  • Full text:  find only the articles available in full text  **TIP:  you can request an article that isn't available through Interlibrary Loan
  • Publication type:  limit results to meta analysis, reviews, systematic reviews, research articles, and evidence based practice.

Helpful Tools & Resources

Search Strategies

Utilizing Your Search Terms

After you brainstorm keywords, you need to know how to use them to search for resources.  The document attached below will help you understand different search strategies as well as develop your own search.

How Search Strategies Work 

 

Search Strategy

What it does

Example

AND

(Boolean Operator)

All terms must appear

Narrows your search

Fewer results

Use to include multiple unique concepts

“coffee AND Brazil” searches for all articles that include both terms, coffee and Brazil

OR

(Boolean Operator)

Either term may appear

Broadens your search

More results

Use for related concepts

“coffee OR caffeine” searches for either term in the articles

NOT

(Boolean Operator)

Removes a term from your search

Narrows your search

Fewer results

Use for concepts you do not want to include

“South America NOT Brazil” searches for articles on South America and removes articles with the word Brazil in them

Phrases

Search for exact phrases

Narrows your search

Fewer results

“ecological tourism” searches for that phrase in that particular order

Truncation

Searches for all forms of a word

Broadens your search

More results

Use to search for the root word of a concept

Add an asterisk * to the root or stem of a word

A search for “tour*” will look for tour, tourism, tourist

 

Please use the Search Strategies worksheet for help developing your search!

Using Boolean Operators