When you search library resources, you will use keywords related to your research topic. Then use the keywords to combine them using Boolean Operators into search strings (or phrase searching) to improve your search. Boolean Operators are simple words (AND, OR, and NOT) that are used to connect and define the relationship between keywords.
The rest of the information on this page gives examples and tips for combining search terms in order to narrow or broaden your search results. Remember that the database can't interpret what you mean, so you have to be clear and specific with your searches in order to control the results.
Truncation is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings.
It is also known as brainstorming, and is very useful for generating topics and keywords for your writing. You can create a mind map by hand using pen and paper, or find an online tool.
|Symbol||What it does||Sample search||Instead of typing|
|*||replaces zero or more letters at the end of a word
(this is truncation)
|comput*||computer OR computing OR computational OR...|
|#||replaces at most one letter||ne#t||net OR neat OR next OR nest OR...|
|?||replaces only one letter||b?t||bat OR bet OR bit OR bot OR but OR...|
REMEMBER: Some databases may use these symbols differently or may use different symbols, so check the database's help section if you're having problems with wildcards.