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Using search Keywords

Keywords are just as useful searching databases as they were in the Library Catalog. Databases tend to have much more content than the catalog, so search terms can be combined to find more precise resources.

Tips that work for most Databases.

  • Use AND, OR, and NOT to join keyword terms versus assuming that the search engine will apply ones you want
  • Use parentheses to group terms with Boolean terms to distinguish sets of ANDs and ORs
  • Asterisk (*) stands for multiple characters. Most databases only allow * on the end of a term. JStor and Wiley allow * to stand before or embedded in a word.

EXAMPLE: war* = war, wars, warring, warlord, etc.

  • Question marks (?) stand for single character replacement.

EXAMPLE: wom?n = woman, women

  • Use double quotation marks around a phrase that you want to search exactly as typed. Some databases will ignore "stop words" such as 'a', 'the', etc. regardless of quotation marks.
  • Use Author, Title, and Abstract search narrowing to find items more specific to your topic. Be careful when using Abstract because not every article contains one.