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Supplemental Guide with Suggested Subject Databases (ENG 355:201): Searching for Scholarly Articles


This page includes suggested search terms and search strategies that will help you find the information you need quicker and more effectively.



Example: You are proposing that peer tutoring can improve the math performance of middle school students in an urban school. You want to find a school that has implemented a similar peer tutoring program and has shown the program produced enhanced student achievement.
Here is a simplified search string:

"peer tutoring" AND "middle school" AND math AND (assess* OR evaluat*)

  • Use " " to search for phrases
  • Use * to include different possible word endings (assess, assessment, assessments)
  • Use AND to narrow the search (must include both middle school and math)
  • Use OR to widen the search (results will include both assessment and evaluation)

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Why use Boolean operators?

To focus a search, particularly when your topic contains multiple search terms

To connect various pieces of information to find exactly what you're looking for

 

Use AND in a search to:

  • narrow your results
  • tell the database that ALL search terms must be present in the resulting records
  • example: cloning AND humans AND ethics

The red triangle in the middle of the Venn diagram below represents the result set for this search. Joining all three terms with AND will produce a smaller result set.

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Use OR in a search to:

  • connect two or more similar concepts (synonyms)
  • broaden your results, telling the database that ANY of your search terms can be present in the resulting records
  • example: cloning OR genetics OR reproduction

All three circles represent the result set for this search. It is a big set because any of those words are valid using the OR operator.

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Use NOT in a search to:

  • exclude words from your search
  • narrow your search, telling the database to ignore concepts that may be implied by your search terms
  • example:  cloning NOT sheep

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