This page is intended to give you some hints to help you put together a search for various databases. The search strategies in it are just the beginning of creating a sophisticated search for information. For more information, check out the full Search Strategies Guide linked in the Quick Links box.
Keywords are words or phrases that describe your research topic. They are used to search for information in the catalog or in databases. When searching for information, you want to employ a variety of search terms because there are multiple ways of describing the same topic.
Start with a question that summarizes and focuses your research topic and identify key concepts associated with the question. Then, generate a list of synonyms and related terms.
Example: "How can airports provide protection from drones entering their airspace?"
Identify synonyms for key concepts.
|unmanned aerial vehicle||airstrip||prevent|
Identify related concepts: protected air space; FAA; law enforcement.
Most databases add the Boolean operator AND between each word you type. In order to search for a phrase, put quotation marks around it.
"unmanned aerial vehicle" = phrase
unmanned aerial vehicle = unmanned aerial vehicle or vehicle aerial unmanned or aerial unmanned vehicle, etc.
Using a truncation symbol allows you to search for alternative word endings.
For example, airp* searches airport, airports, airplane, and airplanes at the same time.
The truncation symbol is often the asterisk. However, some databases use other symbols. Use the help option in the database or ask a librarian to check on which symbol to use.
Using a wildcard symbol allows you to search for alternative spellings within a word.
Wildcards can replace one character. For example, wom?n searches women and woman.
A different symbol may be used to replace more than one letter or to accommodate spellings where a character may or may not be present. For example, colo#r searches color or colour.
ESCOhost databases use the wildcard symbols above. Other databases may use different symbols. Use the help option in the database or ask a librarian to check on which symbol to use.
You can look for books in the two search boxes below. The catalog search box searches Briggs Library's catalog for those books that we own. The WorldCat search box searches thousands of libraries around the world.
Boolean operators or connectors are tools that allow you to narrow or broaden your search.
Using AND between your search terms will narrow your search. For example, searching airport AND drone will find resources with both terms, giving you more specific results. You can keep adding terms with AND to conduct more narrow searches: airport AND drone AND laws AND safety.
Using OR between your search terms will broaden your search. The OR operator is useful when a term has a frequently used synonym. Examples: drone OR UAV; UAV OR "unmanned aerial vehicle". Conducting a search using the OR operator will find resources with either term, giving more results.
Using NOT between your search terms will narrow your search. NOT allows you to exclude a word or phrase from your search. For example, drones NOT military will find resources on drones but exclude information about drones that include the word military.