- Where do I start? This page offers advice if you don't know what research database or search tool to use.
- Request full articles and books not available online or in Library; distance students may request any items not available online.
Search Techniques for Research Databases
Searches of computerized resources are more effective if you know how to "talk to" the computer systems. Communicating with these systems requires knowing certain basic search techniques. Because these techniques are so important for getting good search results, you should take the time to understand them -- and use them. They will vastly improve your search results in information services and when searching the Internet.
Whenever you begin to use a new computerized resource, look for "help" (or "search tips" or "instructions") that will tell you which of these search techniques is available in the resource and how to apply them in the specific resource you are using. See Search Technique Table for Online Search Tools for a summary table showing which techniques are used in the information services provided by Mundt Online.
Boolean operators (connector words)
Connectors or operators are used to tell the computer how to combine the words you want to search. The Boolean operators "AND", "OR", and "NOT" are described below.
Use the connector "and" to tell the system that both terms are needed to describe the subject. That is, both terms must occur in the description of the article. For example, to search the topic "censorship of music" connect the keywords with "and" by typing:
censorship and music
Both the word "censorship" and the word "music" will be in the items found.
firearms and legislation
divorce and statistics and dakota
Use the connector "or" to tell the system that either one word or the other must appear in the description of the item. (This connector is used where alternative words may be used to describe the same subject). For example, if you type:
bones or skeleton
Either the word "bones" or the word "skeleton" will be in the items found.
mice or mouse
farms or ranches
aids not disease
The items found will contain the word "aids" but not the word "disease."
albums not photograph
Note: Some search engines require that the Boolean operator be capitalized: AND, OR, NOT
This alternative to Boolean AND and NOT is used by some search systems (e.g., some Web search engines use it) to include or exclude words.
+ (plus sign)
Attach the plus sign to the front of a word which must appear in all the items found. For example:
+divorce +statistics +dakota
- (minus sign)
Attach the minus sign to the front of a word which must not appear in any of the items found. For example:
Some systems allow phrase searching. If you enter two or more words in a row, they will be searched as a phrase. (Or the system provides a method for you to indicate that you want a phrase searched).
For example, in some systems, to search for the phrase "sex discrimination," you type:
Other search systems require you to explicitly show that you want a phrase by using some sort of connector. Here are two different ways used to indicate phrases in two different search systems:
sex w discrimination
sex ADJ discrimination>
Most search systems now use quotation marks to indicate a phrase. For example:
Save typing by using special symbols or "wild card" characters.
For example, instead of doing the search:
educator or educators or educational or education or educate
use the "root word" (the letters these words have in common) along with a "wildcard character" accepted by the search system. For example:
Truncation or wildcard characters are different in different systems, so be sure to use the correct wildcard character. For example, here are two different systems' ways of doing this search....
In Proquest: educat*
In Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe: educat!