Boolean Operators are words (AND, OR, NOT) that combine or exclude keywords in a search.
AND narrows your search
OR broadens your search
NOT excludes terms
Identify the key concepts of your topic and enter just those terms (not the full sentences) into the search box. For example, if you are investigating factors that influence an individual's diet, your key concepts will be: factors, influence, diet
Consider Synonyms, Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, and Related Terms:
For a search on the factors that influence one's diet consider the following:
factors: family, culture, economic status, income, access, convenience
influence: behavior, habits, attitudes
diet: nutrition, cooking, processed food, plant based, animal based, natural food, vegatarian, vegan
Articles are assigned subject headings. Use these as keywords to broaden or narrow your results. In many of the library's databases, you will find the list of assigned subject headings (sometimes called descriptors) in the record for the article. See the below image as an example of where you can find the subject headings:
Some databases offer a thesaurus that lists related subject headings. Usually, you can find a link to this list near the top of the page.
To find an exact phrase, use double quotes, such as "economic status" or "food habits".
The two Word documents below are intended to assist beginning researchers to learn how to identify key concepts within their research questions or topics. Additionally, they demonstrate how they may develop narrower, broader, or similar terms for a search query.
Please note that the symbols vary by database, so it is in your best interest to look at the Help or Search Tips or Advanced Search section of each database for the correct symbols.
Add a symbol (these vary by database, examples include *, ?, $ ) to find variant endings of a word, which will broaden your search. Enter the root of a word and place the truncation symbol at the end:
Add a symbol (these vary by database, but examples include *, ?, $ ) within a word to find variant spellings of a term.