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COM116 Library Research Skills Guide: Search strategies

Common Search Tips

These search tips can help you to find more relevant results in Primo Search and many other library databases. If these tips don't work in the database you are using check their help section for their set of symbols.

Search Operator Example
Use AND to retrieve results that contain both of your search terms. public relations AND function
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. purpose OR outcomes
Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results. media NOT social
Combine terms with parentheses to create complex searches. (public relations OR marketing) AND function
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase "public relations"
Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk. relat* = relate, relationship, relations
A question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word. organi?e = organise, organize

Field searching and limiters

Most databases will allow you to specify which field you want to search. Common fields include author, title, dates, and subject headings/topic, and these are usually available in both basic and advanced search. 

Once you've searched, you can also limit your results by some of these fields. This is extremely useful if you want all of your articles to have been published within a certain date range, or for them all to be peer-reviewed. Look for these in the menus beside your search results. 

Activity

Try combining some of your keywords using some common search tips.

  • Do you have similar terms to link with OR?
  • Do you have any phrases?
  • Can you combine two different terms with an AND?