Want to improve your search results in the library catalog or databases? Not sure what the difference is between a keyword and a subject search? Explore the tabs above to find some of our best tips and tricks.
1. Isolate keywords from your topic.
2. Narrow your search results to include both of your keywords using AND.
librarian AND “active learning” AND “information literacy”
3. Continue building onto your search, and expand your options using OR to find similar terms.
librarian AND “active learning” AND “information literacy” AND (student OR researcher)
Combining search terms with AND:
A search for librarian yields 172,745 results
A search for “active learning” yields 16,358 results
A search for "active learning" AND librarian yields 1,243 results
A search for student yields 3,698,871 results
A search for researcher yields 1,425,100 results
A search for student OR researcher yields 4,690,553 results
A search for college yields 3,378,136 results
A search for college NOT “high school” yields 2,916,582 results
Use Quotation Marks to:
This shows the search engine that you want the terms to be found together. The search will look for exactly what you place in the quotation marks, so be sure there are no mistakes.
A search for information literacy yields 147,695 results
A search for "information literacy" yields 13,038 results
Use Truncation to:
Search engines match your terms to results; they will not automatically find an alternate version of it. Truncation tells the search to match the root of your term and gives it freedom to find whatever endings it can.
A search for Librarian yields 172,775 results
A search for Librar* yields 1,887,533 results
1. denoting a system of algebraic notation used to represent logical propositions, especially in computing and electronics.
What does that mean for you?
If you are having a hard time finding what you need, use the Boolean Operators outlined here to more efficiently search databases.
No matter where you are searching - the catalog, Google Scholar, a database you will want to use Boolearn Operators to refine your search to your specifications.
We are indebted to the Butler University Library's And/Or/Not box for some of the content displayed here.
1. Review Assignment: What's the assignment? What are the expectations for your work? Are there any specific parameters that you need to be aware of?
2. Brainstorm: Pick a topic that interests you! Do you have a strong opinion on something? Do you have a personal issue, problem, or pastime that you would like to know more about?
Librarian Tip: The research and writing will go by more quickly if you care about the topic you are researching!
3. Find Background Information: Reading an overview of a topic will allow you to better understand the landscape of what you are researching. This in turn will allow you to narrow in on a specific concept that piques your interest.
Librarian Tip: This process also allows you to find common vocabulary used in the field, which offers you keywords for your resource searching. Make a list of these keywords as you are going.
4. Focus Your Topic: Make sure to keep your work manageable by honing in on a specific thesis statement or question.
Librarian Tip: Remember to stay flexible while picking a thesis statement, if a topic is too broad or too narrow it will be hard to research. So keep in mind - picking your topic is research!