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Research Experience for Undergraduates in Computer Science: Search Tips

Searching for Articles

To find articles, use the Advanced Search option in your database to make the best use of your Boolean Operators* (see below left).

*Boolean Operators: Use AND between main ideas, OR between synonyms or related words for a main idea, and NOT when you want to remove a word or phrase from your results list.

Boolean Operators in Action (AND)

Boolean Operators in Action (NOT)

Boolean Operators in Action (OR)

How to Search

Search by keywords and small phrases.

Put "" around a short phrase (as in "internet of things") to make sure your results contain that exact phrase.

Maximize your keyword searches with Boolean searching (AND, OR, NOT).

Use the database’s "help" feature to find the syntax for advanced searches. This varies by database.

Consider truncation. The asterisk (*) symbol is used most often. 

Typing in stand* will give results containing: stands, standing, standards, standardize, and etc.

Try using the database’s subject or descriptor terms. Those are listed in the database’s thesaurus, or they may be listed near the article abstract. These can be useful for learning the preferred vocabulary of a discipline.

Research Timesavers

Here are some quick non-search tricks to help you research more efficiently.

  • Use the personalization features offered by databases. Registering for an account on a database unlocks many useful features like search alerts.
  • Many databases can save your search as a link or an RSS feed. You can bookmark where you were to refer back to a search, or use a feed reader like Google Reader to receive updates.
  • Use the multiple databases searching feature, if the database you are using has one. This allows you to search multiple databases from a given company.
  • Does it have an app?  Many databases either have a mobile interface or an app to enable searching from a smartphone.
  • Use a citation manager) to generate bibliographies and in-line citations.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar can be a useful tool when collecting research information. Accessing Google Scholar from the Library Databases page will link to the subscription sources available to you as a Texas State Student. If you do not use the library link for off campus access, you won't be able to access library-subscribed content. If you are off campus, you will be prompted for your TxState NetID to search Google Scholar.


Google Scholar 

Library Databases 


Indexes everything that calls itself a journal (including many thousands of bogus journals) 

Indexes journals/databases that meet research criteria 


Only one way to search 

Multi-faceted searching 


*In a small study 20% of papers using Google Scholar for research cited bogus sources 

*Students who used library databases had 0 bogus publications for their sources 

Rockwell Schrock's Boolean Machine