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ENG 101 - Prof. Matsunaga - English 101: Search Strategy

Find your Keywords

When searching the the catalog and databases for sources, do not type in whole sentences.

Look at your  readings for ideas on topics. Write down possible search terms to use in the databases

There is no one 'correct' search word to use. Different keywords will give you more results. Think of words that mean the same or something similar as your topic and try those words too.  E.g. Drones, Unmanned Aircraft, UAS, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems


You may need to broaden or narrow  your search terms depending on your results :

Search  GPS (broader) instead of Geolocation ; or Retinal Scanning (narrower) instead of Biometrics.


Use the asterisk * to truncate words and widen your search. fingerprint* will search for fingerprint, fingerprints and fingerprinting.

Use quotation marks to keep phrases together: e.g. "DNA Database" 

e.g. search  "Social Media" AND Privacy and Geosocial

 or Facebook* AND Privacy AND Geolocation

"Social Media" AND Location Tagging AND Apps

Try your search terms in different combinations to get the greatest number of results.


Use AND in a search to:

  • narrow your results
  • tell the database that ALL search terms must be present in the resulting records
  • example: cloning AND humans AND ethics

The purple triangle in the middle of the Venn diagram below represents the result set for this search. It is a small set using AND, the combination of all three search words.

Be aware:  In many, but not all, databases, the AND is implied.

  • Google and many library Databases automatically put an AND in between your search terms.
  • Though all your search terms are included in the results, they may not be connected together in the way you want.
  • For example, this search:  college students test anxiety  is translated to:  college AND students AND test AND anxiety. The words may appear individually throughout the resulting records.
  • You can search using phrases to make your results more specific.
  • For example:  "college students" AND "test anxiety". This way, the phrases show up in the results as you expect them to be.


Use OR in a search to:

  • connect two or more similar concepts (synonyms)
  • broaden your results, telling the database that ANY of your search terms can be present in the resulting records
  • example: cloning OR genetics OR reproduction

All three circles represent the result set for this search. It is a big set because any of those words are valid using the OR operator.


Use NOT in a search to:

  • exclude words from your search
  • narrow your search, telling the database to ignore concepts that may be implied by your search terms
  • example:  "sports technology" NOT gambling

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