Here are some basic searching tips to use when searching a library database. Ask a librarian for more help if you are not finding the type of information you need about your topic.
1. Keywords, Broader terms, Narrower terms
Use a variety of keywords to describe your topic. If you begin your research by using reference materials such as encyclopedias, you will often run across vocabulary to describe your topic that you may not have thought of on your own. Use this worksheet to help you brainstorm: http://bit.ly/research-topic-worksheet
- global warming OR climate change
- alternative fuel OR ethanol OR hydrogen OR carbon dioxide OR emissions
You should remove all "stop words" from your search. Stop words include articles, prepositions, or essentially any word that is not a crucial, meaningful word. Examples: a, an, the, in, on, of, are, be, into, which, about, that, etc.
2. Use quotation marks for phrase searching
- "war on drugs"
- "interpersonal relationship*"
- "climate change"
3. Use truncation to get the database to search for a root word plus any possible endings
- flood* → flood, floods, flooded, flooding
- econom* → economy, economic, economical
- psycholog* → psychology, psychological, psychologist
4. Use AND, OR, and NOT to combine your search terms
- (television OR TV) AND (women OR female)
- "war on drugs" AND Mexic* AND (United States OR America*)
- dolphins NOT football