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Search Strategies and Boolean Operators: Home

This document will guide students through the process of creating search strategies using keyword sand Boolean operators.

Search Strategies and Boolean Operators

I. Write a research question about your subject:


Which crime prevention programs are most effective at cutting down on repeat offenses of juvenile delinquents?

What are the effects of pollution on frogs in marshlands?

How did Lewis Carroll portray madness in Alice in Wonderland?

How can wireless technology improve patient care in hospitals?




II. Write down the key concepts found in your topic sentence:

Key concepts from one of the examples:

Wireless technology, patient care, hospitals

________________ __________________ ___________________

Write 2 or 3 key concepts from your question. If your question contains more than three keywords, you might need to do multiple searches and synthesize the results.


III. Find Synonyms of (or words related to) your concepts:

Synonyms of example concepts:

wireless technology: wireless lan, wlan, hotspots

patient care: PCS services, patient recovery, patient treatment

hospitals: clinics, emergency rooms


List synonyms or words related to concepts in your own topic sentence:

______________ _______________ _______________

______________ _______________ _______________

______________ _______________ _______________


IV. Connect Your search terms with Boolean Operators

And narrows your search:

A search for Wireless technology and patient care and hospitals

will retrieve only articles about all three concepts.

Or broadens your search:

A search for patient care or patients or medical records

will retrieve all articles about any of the three concepts.


A good search for this topic might look like this:

wireless technology OR  wireless lan OR  wlan OR hotspots


patient care OR  PCS services OR  patient recovery OR patient treatment


hospitals OR  clinics OR  emergency rooms  

This search connects the synonyms and related concepts with OR and connects the different concepts with AND, thus doing a broad search for articles that must contain certain specific ideas. 


V. Enter your terms into one or more library databases:

As needed, substitute or include other terms from your list of synonyms and related concepts. Keep in ,mind that articles you retrieve can be read to find additional search terms, such as important people, related concepts, and/or Library of Congress subject headings. These new words can be added to your next search.


VI. If You Need Help

Always feel free to ask a librarian for help!


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