Boolean operators are connectors used to show a relationship between keywords. The three Boolean operators used in research databases include: AND, OR, NOT
AND - use this operator between keywords to narrow your search and reduce the size of your results
Ex. Zika AND Florida - this search tells the database that you only want articles that include Zika AND Florida within them.
OR - use this operator between keywords to broaden your search and increase the size of your results
Ex. Iraq OR Syria - this search tells the database that you want any articles that contain either Iraq OR Syria; only one of the keywords has to be present in the article to be part of your results
NOT - use this operator to exclude a keyword from your search
Ex. obesity NOT childhood - this search tells the database that you want articles on obesity as long as they exclude reference to childhood
Need more examples? See this short video from Carnegie Vincent Library: Boolean Operators: Pirates Vs. Ninjas
Most research databases allow universal shortcuts in the basic search box. These universal shortcuts include:
Exact Phrase Searching - use quotation marks to retrieve the phrase typed within
Ex. "weapons of mass destruction" will look for that phrase in articles, whereas weapons of mass destruction will also retrieve any articles on weapons and mass and destruction as individual keywords
Nested Searching - helps a database search more efficiently for two keywords that are similar conceptually and connected in the keyword search with a Boolean operator. Use parentheses around these two keywords to do nested searching.
Ex. "weapons of mass destruction" AND (Iraq or Syria) - parentheses help the database understand the relationship between the keywords within for organizing the search
Truncation - broadens the search by instructing the database to include variations of a keyword by shortening the keyword with an asterisk
Ex. psyc* will find: psychology, psychologist, psychological, psychiatry, psychiatrist, psychiatric, psychosis, psychotic, etc.
psychol* will find: psychology, psychologist, psychological, etc.
The C.R.A.P. test is a way to evaluate a source by asking yourself how the source responds to the following criteria:
How recent is the information?
How recently has the website been updated?
Is it current enough for your topic?
What kind of information is included in the resource?
Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is is balanced?
Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?
Who is the creator or author?
What are the credentials?
Who is the published or sponsor?
Are they reputable?
What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?
Are there advertisements on the website?
Purpose/Point of View
Is this fact or opinion?
Is it biased?
Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?
--from LOEX 2008 wiki
Basic keyword searches are a fine place to start.
How to Find Specific Kinds of Articles:
No method of searching for specific kinds of articles is fool-proof. These tips, however, will be of great use:
Maximizing returns from your search results:
Subject Heading Searches:
Check the subject headings within specific articles to refine successive searches for more focused results
Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed:
Many databases give you the option of checking a box if you wish to retrieve only scholarly / peer-reviewed articles. I suggest that you absolutely do this, AFTER you’ve done an initial search to cull all potential useful keywords and subject headings from all the articles in the system, peer-reviewed or not.