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Advanced Searching

Once you pick keywords for your topic, you must combine your keywords by creating a search string. The example below shows a possible search string for a topic.

How Did The United States Use Rationing/Ration Books During World War II?

“United States” AND (ration* OR “ration books”) AND “World War Two”

StrategyWhat it Looks Like
Start with Keywords:United States, rationing, ration books, World War Two,
Add Double Quotes around Phrases: United States ration books World War Two
Connect Ideas with AND:“United States” AND “ration books” AND “World War Two”
Connect Synonyms with ( ) and OR :(rationing OR “ration books”)
* for multiple endings: ration*

Get Fewer Results

Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) tell the database how keywords should be connected in the search.

Use them to narrow (AND), broaden (OR), or exclude (NOT) keywords in your results.

Example: dog AND cat

Example: Teacher OR School

Example: classroom NOT college


Double quotation marks ” ” allow you to search for an exact phrase.

Use them to narrow your search results to more relevant items.

Example: “affirmative action”

Get More Results


Nesting groups search terms and dictate the order in which the operators are applied. Specifically, everything within the parentheses ( ) is searched first.

Use ( ) to add synonyms and increase your results.

Example: (ration OR garden)

Wild Card

With this technique, you cut off your search term to its root and add a symbol, the asterisk *. That instructs the search tool to find all endings of the word, no matter which letters may follow.

Use them to increase your search results for words with various word endings such as a nurse, nurses, or nursing.

Example: nurs*

Citation Chaining

Once you find a few good articles, follow the citation chain to find newer or older articles in the same scholarly conversation.

  • Check the references, especially cited in the introduction, for relevant articles.
  • Search Google Scholar for the article title and click on the (Cited by) link underneath the article to find newer articles that cite this article.

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