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CH 126/128: General Chemistry I & II Lab (Honors): Develop Strategy

Search Techniques

Use the techniques below to develop a search strategy.

Boolean Operators

Proximity Operators

Truncation & Wildcard Symbols


Ohio State University Libraries. (n.d.). Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research. Pressbooks.

Write Research Question

The first step in developing a search strategy is to write the research question.

In what ways has urbanization affected ecological health of the Cahaba River?

Identify Key Concepts

The second step in developing a search strategy is to identify the key concepts in the research question.

Concept #1 Concept #2 Concept #3


ecological health

Cahaba River

Brainstorm Search Terms

The third step in developing a search strategy is to brainstorm keywords related to the concepts.

Concept #1 Concept #2 Concept #3


quantification of microplastics
detection of microplastics


fluorescence microscopy
light microscopy

fluorescent dye
lipophilic dye
fluorescent staining
fluorescence staining
fluorescent tagging

Nile Red
Fenton's Reagent

ecological health

aquatic organisms
marine organisms


food chain

Cahaba River





Tip:  Look for keywords as you find sources on your research topic.

Combine Search Terms

The fourth step in developing a search strategy is to combine the keywords using the techniques below.

  • Boolean operators

AND  –  use to find all of the terms and get fewer results
OR  –  use to find any of the terms and get more results
NOT  –  use to find the first term but not the second term

  • Proximity operators

" "  –  use to find the terms next to each other in the order given as a phrase

  • Truncation and wildcard symbols

*  –  use to replace multiple characters in the term
?  –  use to replace one character in the term

  • Parentheses

( )  –  use to specify the order in which to combine the terms

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