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SLIS West Student Guide: Search Techniques

Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators allow users to combine concepts in a keyword search of online catalogs or databases.

OR is used to expand your search.

AND is used to narrow search results.

NOT will exclude specific terms from your search results.

 

Citation Searching

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Resources like LISA and LISS will show you cited and citing references for any article you find in them. 

Concept Grid

Sometimes it's helpful to use a concept grid as you prepare to search an online database.

This is what a concept grid will look like:

Concept #1 OR Synonym OR Synonym
AND   AND   AND
Concept #2 OR Synonym OR Synonym
AND   AND   AND
Concept #3 OR Synonym OR

Synonym

- Start by identifying the concept(s) for which you will be searching.

- Can you think of any synonyms or variations for the concepts?

- Use Boolean Operators to link the terms together

- When possible, use truncation to broaden your results

* Note that you can also use parenthesis to create a search string:

(Concept #1 OR Synonym OR Synonym) AND (Concept #2 OR Synonym OR Synonym) AND (Concept #3 OR Synonym OR Synonym)

Truncation

Truncation is the addition of a symbol (commonly the asterisk) at the ending of the root of a word. Using this technique will open up a search to include variants of the word.

Example: teach* will result in a search for 'teach', 'teacher', teachers', or 'teaching'

Keep in mind that truncation can give you unexpected results:

Art* could result in 'art', 'artist', 'artwork', or even 'artichoke'

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