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Faye Kachur Online W131 Class Guide: Keywords and Searching

This guide is to assist students enrolled in Professor Kachur's W131 Online Course.


Once you know your research query, take out the main points to search within the databases.

In the databases, you will use Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT

Example: Searching a topic on: How does divorce affect children?

divorce and children = Materials about both divorce AND children

divorce not children = Materials on divorce with no reference to children

divorce or children = All materials that mention either divorce OR children or both


Use "and" to connect different concepts. "And" will search all of your terms within the record. It narrows your search to give you results specific to your query. Notice the red ovals. These are the different concepts taken from the research query. This is how you would search the database using "and": education and collaborative learning and future


Use "or" to combine similiar concepts within parenthesis. "Or" searches for everything on your keywords, unless you control the search with parenthesis. Use "or" to search with your alternate terms: education and collaborative learning and (future or trend)


You will seldomly use "not." Use this operator to eliminate an aspect of the topic from your search query. For example, if you wanted to look at the future of collaborative learning within education, but you did not want to look at the technological innovations that goes along with that, you search would be: education and collborative learning and future not technology


*  An asterisk is used when you want to search for words that have the same root. For example, psych* will bring up results with: psych, psyche, psycho, psychotic, psychopath, psychology, psychiatry, etc.

Group similar concepts together by using parentheses ( )


Generalized Search: diabetes or hypertension and African-Americans or Latinos

This search will retrieve everything on diabetes, information on African-Americans and hypertension as well as everything on Latinos, whether or not the articles refer to diabetes or hypertension.

Focused Search: (diabetes or hypertension) and (African-Americans or Latinos)

In this example, we have used the parentheses to control our query to only find articles about diabetes or hypertension that reference African-Americans or Latinos.

Search exact phrases or terms using quotations “ ”

Example: “breast cancer”

Because of the quotations, the exact phrase, breast cancer, will appear exactly.