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Research Process: A Step-By-Step Guide: 2f. Search Strategies

A guide to help you through the steps of the research process. This guide is modeled after a guide created by the librarians at Johnson & Wales University.

Search Strings

To retrieve the most relevant search results, you will need to construct a search string

A search string is a combination of keywords, truncation symbols, and boolean operators you enter into the search box of a library database or search engine.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are connector words, such as AND, OR, and NOT, that are used to combine or exclude words in a search string for more focused results. 

Operator Examples Results
AND

business AND ethics

cooking AND Spain

Results contain    
ALL of the search terms.
OR

hotels OR motels

www OR world wide web

theater OR theatre

Results contain ANY of the search terms, but not necessarily all of them.
NOT

java NOT coffee

Clinton NOT Bill

Excludes results containing
the second search term.

Truncation

Truncation or wildcard symbols allow you to look for variations of words. They often broaden your search results.

For example, searching on sport* would bring up variations such as sport, sports, sporting, sporty, etc. 

Note: The truncation symbol varies by database. Consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages for details.

Search Strategy Builder


This tool is designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. Cut and paste the search string results into the search box of a library database or search engine.

Concept 1 and Concept 2 and Concept 3
Name your concepts here
Search terms Search terms Search terms
List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

Use single words, or "short phrases" in quotes

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

or

Cut and paste the results above into the search box of a library database or search engine.
 
Developed by the University of Arizona Libraries and is used under a Creative Commons License.

Google Search Strategies

Get More out of Google, created by Hack College, is a great way to learn how to get more out of your Google searches.

 

Tip!

Are you finding too much or not enough information? Try using boolean operators and truncation symbols, or use alternative, narrower, or broader keywords to vary your results.