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Research Tools: Search Tips

Search Tips and Tricks

  1. Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase. For example, typing college stress into a search box will find everything containing those 2 words, but "college stress" will find that phrase only.
  2. Use an asterisk to truncate words to find variations. For example, psycholog* will find psychology, psychologist, psychological, etc. This is not usually necessary for plurals.
  3. Use the words AND, OR and NOT to narrow or broaden searches. AND will combine the terms (college AND stress), OR will find either term (college OR university), and NOT can eliminate irrelevant terms or phrases (college NOT "community college").
  4. Use parentheses to construct more complicated searches using AND, OR and NOT. For example, (college OR university) AND (stress OR anxiety) NOT "community college". Most research databases have an advanced search screen that provides multiple search boxes to help you with complicated searches like this.
  5. Note on Google: It does not support truncation. Also, instead of NOT, use a minus sign (-"community college"). Google has an advanced search screen as well, but you have to do a search first before you can access it!