Basic and Advanced Search Techniques

Basic Search Tips

One of the easiest and most effective things you can do to improve your search results is to improve your search keywords (the words you put into the search box in the database or even in Google).

Don’t just type your search question into the database or catalog search box! Only enter the most important terms in your research topic. For example, if your research question is, “Does texting have a negative impact on teenagers’ reading comprehension?”, good keywords (search terms) are texting, teenager and reading comprehension.

Advanced Search Tips

Often a simple search with well-chosen keywords will provide you with the results you need. But, sometimes you need to do a more advanced search, depending on your topic and your search terms. Here’s how:

  • Use an asterisk(*) to search for all variants of a word. Ex: teen* = teenager, teenagers, teens, and teen
  • Put phrases in quotes. Ex: “reading comprehension”
  • Use OR (in all capital letters) to include synonyms in your search. Ex: reading OR literacy
  • Use AND (in all capital letters) to narrow your search to a specific topic. Ex: technology AND reading
  • Use the search limiters that most databases provide to get the results you need: in Academic Search Premier, for example, you can check a box to get only articles that are full text or scholarly (peer reviewed). You can also use the date limiter to see results from a specific date range.

full text check box


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