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EML102 Research Skills Guide: Search Strategies


To increase the effectiveness of your information searching try adopting some advanced or Boolean searching techniques.

Use the truncation symbol * to search for related terms that have the same stem word will broaden your search giving you more results

  • e.g. teach* = teacher, teaches, teaching

Phrase searching 
Phrase searching involves placing double quotation marks ("__") around two or more words to create a search term. This technique narrows the search to retrieve only those results in which the exact phrase appears

  • e.g. "information technology" will search for results in which the words information and technology appear next to each other.

Boolean Operators
Boolean operators allow you to fine tune your search by using the operators "AND" and "OR" to combine keywords and expand or narrow your search.

  • Use the term AND to combine concepts e.g. teach* AND computers
    Unlike some individual journal databases Google and Primo Search default to keyword searching, so you do not need to enter the AND operator.
    • e.g. if you type in teach* computers, you will get results for teach* AND computers.
  • Use the term OR to simultaneously search for synonyms
    • e.g. computers OR "information communication technology"

Boolean operators

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. teacher AND educator
Use OR to retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms. 21st century OR twenty first century
Using NOT to exclude irrelevant results. secondary NOT tertiary
Combine terms with parentheses to create complex searches. (tertiary OR university) AND education
Use quotation marks to search for a phrase "digital literacies"
Search for terms with different word endings using an asterisk. manag* = manage, managed, managing, management
A question mark can be used to replace a single letter within a word. analy?e = analyse, analyze

Note that the terms AND OR and NOT are sometimes referred to as Boolean Operators, using quotation marks is called a phrase search, and using the asterisk is called truncation.