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SW 520: Search Tips

A guide to library resources and research tips for Social Work 520 - "Human Behavior in the Social Environment"

Building a Better Search

Building a Better Search


Identifying the major concepts and similar terms (synonyms) for your research topic...

Example topic: "The effects of media violence on children"

  Original Term   Synonym #1   Synonym #2
  Media OR Television OR Movies
AND Violence OR Aggression    
AND Children OR Youth OR Adolescents

 

...can help you construct a better search query, which yields better search results!

EBSCO Advanced Search screenshot

Using AND, OR, and Other Search Tips

Search Tips


These tips pertain to many library databases including the "Advanced Search" screen of Pirate Search.

Boolean Operators (AND / OR)

  AND OR
How it works: Search results contain both Term #1 and Term #2 Search results contain either Term #1 or Term #2 (or both)
Effects on search results: Narrows /
Fewer results
Broadens /
More results
Examples with diagrams:

Peas AND Carrots

Results = the middle area overlapped by both circles
AND diagram

Peas OR Carrots

Results = the entire area
of both circles
OR

 

Asterisks and Quotation Marks

Using an asterisk wildcard (*) at the end of a partial word will broaden search results by including multiple word endings.

When searching for a specific phrase (two or more words together), adding quotation marks around that phrase will typically narrow your search results.

For example:

  • Using child* will search for all variations of the word child, including children, children's, or childhood.
  • A search on "sexual strategies theory" -- with the quotation marks included -- will retrieve only those records containing these three words together in this exact order.
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