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Scientific & Technical Writing Research Guide (ENG 355:302 )

Visit this research guide for articles, websites, and other resources for your Scientific & Technical Writing class.

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)


A paradigm is a model. A model of success is a real world example of an idea like yours which has worked in practice. It may provide evidence that your specific approach can succeed.

Finding models of success journal articles can be challenging. This page includes suggested search terms and search strategies that will help you find the information you need quicker and more effectively.

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.


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.


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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