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EPR 594: Introduction to Research Design: Searching

Almost all databases use the same functions.  Once you know what to look for and how it works you can take that skill set anywhere.

A Reminder about Keywords

"Keyword" is just a term used to encompass all sorts of words and ideas that you use to search for resources.  They include terms from the

  • Title
  • Author's name
  • Publishing dates
  • Previous search results
  • Reference Lists and Notes

AND OR NOT = Search Predictability

The most basic function you will find in a database is Boolean Searching.  Boolean Searching uses AND, OR, & NOT to tell the machine how your keywords should function.

Imagine if you were searching for a pet in a database of animal shelter.  You might do something like this:

dog AND cat = for kids who a pet that is both a cat and a dog          

dog OR cat  = for those who aren't sure which is right       

dog NOT cat = for those allergic to cats

Other Search Options

Truncation searches for all forms of a word.

  • In most databases, the truncation symbol is the asterisk *.  Check the help menu to confirm. 

  • Educat* in a search box will bring up results with all words having the root “educat,” such as education, educational, and educators.

Quotation Marks search for phrases.  Entering “special education” in the search box will force the search to look for the phrase instead of separating the words.

Putting it together

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