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Basic Research Steps
- Select an interesting and doable topic.
- Identify each component of your topic.
- Select appropriate terms to describe the components.
- Determine the correct use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).
- Select fields to search if appropriate (author, title, subject).
- Limit your results as necessary (date, scholarly vs. popular, etc.).
- Evaluate your results and rethink your strategy as necessary.
Tips & Shortcuts for Database Searching
Basic Search Techniques
Keyword searching--Watch this tutorial from the University of Missouri-St. Louis
Boolean operators (AND, OR, AND NOT) These words are used to combine your search terms. Click here to see a tutorial in the Gingrich Guide.
Truncation--Use the asterisk * to retrieve all variants of a word. For example, environ* will retrieve environment, environmentalist, environmental. But be careful! Con* will retrieve convict, contract, constitution and all other words that start that way. You will get many irrelevant items.
Phrase searching--If your search term is a phrase, e.g., critical thinking, enclose the phrase in quotation marks. "Critical thinking" is a more specific search than typing the words separately.