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Helpful Searching Tips

  • For most searches, start with your keywords, then limit or refine your search to narrow results ( add a location, resource type, publication date, etc.)

You can Use Boolean Operators, Nesting and Phrase Searching

  • Boolean operators such as AND, NOT and OR help you refine your search by including words (Fish AND pollution), excluding words (Fish NOT plastics), or combining searches ((Fish OR turtles) AND Pollution).
  • If combining keywords with Boolean operators such as and, or, not , always capitalize the operators (e.g. hurricanes OR cyclones)
  • Nesting: Is using parentheses to organize your search, for example "critical thinking" AND (higher education OR college students) - keeping the second section in parenthesis organizes the search so that critical thinking is searched with both of these terms separately.
  • Phrase Searching: Use quotation marks to search for phrases that you want to search (e.g. "truth and reconciliation"  or "climate change") Searching these without the quotation marks would search for each word separately.
  • Wildcards and Truncation. Often databases will allow various wildcards, a popular one is  *, which replaces all remaining characters in a word (truncation). If you did  fish*, this would include fish, fishes, fishing, etc.

Other tips

  • When you've located a useful book, look at the book's details to view the subject headings assigned to that book.  You can search a subject heading (or a combination of subject headings) to locate similiar books
  • Often authors will write on the same topic, so if you find one resource, try searching by that author to find more