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Research Fundamentals: Searching Help

Beginning that assignment...

Your search terms

When constructing a search, ask yourself these questions...

  • Are the words too specific?
  • Are they too broad or general?
  • Do you need to add another term or phrase?
  • Are you using correct terminology?
  • Is there another word with the same meaning?


More search tips


Truncating words (replacing part of a word with an * symbol) will retrieve all alternative words. For example, sustain* will retrieve sustainable, sustainability etc.


Internal truncation (also called wildcards and often using the ? symbol) will search for alternative spellings. For example, behavi?r will retrieve behavior or behaviour.


Identify keywords & phrases

Limiting your results

Once you begin searching FindIt@ you will most likely need to limit your results. Consider these options:

  • Date: specify a particular time period e.g. last two years
  • Full-text only: fulltext is best if you are searching for journal articles
  • Scholarly/peer-reviewed: find only peer-reviewed articles
  • Document type: you may be looking specifically for business reports, company information etc
  • Language: you can limit to a particular language
  • Country or geography: perhaps you need content from a particular country

Connectors: AND, OR, NOT

Combine search terms using Connectors, also called Boolean operators.

AND: e.g. prohibition AND Volstead Act, this will retrieve results containing BOTH terms and narrow your search.

OR: e.g. prohibition OR illegal alcohol, this will retrieve results with EITHER and will broaden your search

NOT: e.g. temperance movement NOT mafia, this will retrieve references with temperance movement and will not include mafia and will narrow your search.