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POM ID1 - Building the Future -- Professor Jensen - FA 21


  • Learning how to search databases is important because it is a little different than searching Google. 
  • This section will help you learn how to create searches and limit the thousands of records in the database to retrieve relevant information.
  • If you are having difficulty finding results, contact a subject librarians.

Also see the video on Boolean Operators

Also see the Video: Using Advanced Library Search

Basic Search Strategies (Video)

Developing Your Research Topic

Start with a general topic/broad keyword(s) then narrow as you build.

  • Use a Thesaurus to find alternate terms
  • Brainstorm for keywords that are most important in defining your topic
  • Break your topic into categories using questions
    • Who? [broad topic] American Space Exploration
    • What? [specific topic/group] Manned Space Missions
    • Where? [geographically] Moon Exploration
    • When? [time period] 1960's
    • Why? [why did this action take place/why does it matter] Quest to leave Earth
    • How? [how was this achieved/not achieved?] Rocket to the Moon: Space Exploration

Using Boolean Operators

Using Boolean Operators

Boolean operators connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your set of results. Using Boolean Operators will provide better and more accurate results. The three basic boolean operators are: ANDOR, and NOT.


  • ANDRetrieves articles that contain ALL terms. NARROWS down the search.
    Search example: "Child Obesity" AND "California"

  • ORRetrieves articles with ANY of the terms. BROADENS the search.
    Search example: Obesity OR overweight children OR juveniles

  • NOT: Eliminates articles containing the SECOND term. NARROWS the search.
    Search example: Depression AND teens NOT adults

Search Techniques & Tools

Exact Phrase Searching

  • Use quotation marks around a phrase of two or more words to limit or narrow your search results
  • Phrase search indicates to a search tool that you want the search terms in a specific order together
  • Example:
    • "alternative energy"
    • This will retrieve results where these terms appear in this specific order and together
    • So, you will not get results with just energy or just alternative or energy alternative
  • Phrase search is most useful when you are searching for keywords that have multiple meanings or that have specific meanings when used in combination.

Truncation Searching

  • Truncation is a way to search for words that may appear in multiple forms
  • It is usually indicated by an asterisk *
  • Example: librar*  will retrieve all results that contains library, libraries, librarian, etc.

Web Domain Searching

  • To find websites with specific domain such as:
    • .org = non-profit organizations
    • .gov = U.S. government
    • .edu = educational 
    • .com = commercial
    • .net = large network
  • Use "site:" and the domain you wish to find, without spaces.
  • Example: