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Human Information Behavior (17:610:510)

Library research guide for Human Information Behavior (17:610:510).


  • information seeking behavior or information seeking
  • information searching or searching
  • information use or information need
  • information sharing
  • information communication or information transfer
  • information avoidance
  • relevance judgement
  • information generation
  • information habit
  • sensemaking
  • information generation
  • "information behavior and practices"

Information Related to Your Population

  • Think about terms that identify the group you've selected. For example:
    • teachers OR educators OR professors
    • undergraduates OR college students OR freshmen OR "gen z"
  • Think about the types of information a specific user-group needs. Many groups will have information needs that span many subjects and disciplines. For example, nurses may have medical, psychological, interpersonal, and time-sensitive information needs.

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.

AND Use this word between concepts to narrow your results.  e.g. sensory AND perception
OR Use this word between related concepts.  e.g. habitat OR ecosystem
NOT Use this word to exclude terms from your search. e.g. virus NOT corona
Quotations Use quotes to search for a multi-word concept. e.g. "International Year of Indigenous Languages"
* Use the asterisk symbol to include alternate word endings. e.g. cultur* will search for culture, cultural, and culturally
? Use a question mark to include variations in spelling in your search. e.g. wom?n will search for woman, women
(  ) Use brackets to create separate groups of actions in your search. e.g. "climate change" AND (ecosystem* OR habitat*) AND Ontario

Sample Search Query

information seeking behavior AND mothers AND social networks

Use AND in a search to:

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

The result set is represented by the space where the two circles intersect in the middle of the Venn diagram below. Joining the two terms with AND will produce a smaller result set where each individual result must include both moths and butterflies

moths AND butterflies

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

The complete two circles represent the result set for this search. It is a big set because both words are valid using the OR operator. Any individual result can include either moth, butterfly, or both.

moths OR butterflies

Use NOT in a search to:

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

moths NOT butterflies


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