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COM 101: Composition & Research

For online COM 101 sections.

Lesson: Search Strategies

In this lesson you will learn how to utilize a variety of search strategies to effectively locate and retrieve information on your topic.  You will:

  1. Watch the "Boolean Operators" video.
  2. Review the "How Search Strategies Work" chart which explains the various search strategies including Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT), phrases, and truncation.
  3. Complete the Search Strategies Practice Activity.

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.

Search Strategies

Using Boolean Operators


How Search Strategies Work 


Search Strategy

What it does



(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


(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


(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


Search for exact phrases

Narrows your search

Fewer results

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


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


ACTIVITY: Search Strategies in Practice

Download and complete the following activity.  Instructions can be found within the document.