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Prof. Maroney - English 101 Fall 2023: 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. Artificial Intelligence, AI, ChatGPT, generative AI

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 Connectors for words or phrases

Use AND to combine keywords and phrases or concepts when searching the electronic databases for articles.

  •  big cities AND population growth 
  •  DNA testing AND crime
  •  college students AND mental health

Use OR to EXPAND with synonyms:

Covid 19 OR Coronavirus

Misinformation OR Fake News

Natural Disasters OR hurricanes OR tornadoes


One way to visualize Boolean Operators is to use a Venn diagram. See below or watch the video to the right.

Boolean Operator Venn Diagram


Use truncation (asterisk) and wildcards (usually a question mark or exclamation point).

  •  child* and education
  •  globali?ation and analysis

Child* brings up child, children, childhood, and any other word that starts with the root "child." This works in most of the databases.

Globali?ation brings up items with the words globalization or globalisation.

If you don't use truncation and wildcards, some databases will look for an exact match to the words you type, and you may miss some relevant materials.

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