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ASH402/501 Research Skills Guide: Search tools


Although there are various search tools available to you, some are better than others for finding scholarly information.

Internet search engines such as Google are tools that are accessible by anyone and are useful when searching for general information such as definitions and background information and for locating Government and Organisation websites. However for the purpose of finding information for your assignment we consider Primo Search and the Journal Databases as better and best as they are provided by the CSU Library for the use of CSU students and staff only, enabling access to subscribed content that is not freely available via internet search engines.

Internet search engines produce OK results. Millions or billions of results, no review, results are not necessarily "scholarly". Google Scholar produces good results. Broad search with lots of scholarly content but not all of it is accessible. Provides links to journal articles that CSU Library subscribes to. Primo Search produces better search results, as it searches the CSU collection and most journal databases. Journal Databases produce the best results which are discipline specific with sophisticated search options.


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 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

  • For example: "information technology" will search for results in which the word 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
  • Use the term OR to simultaneously search for synonyms e.g. computers OR "information communication technology"

Boolean operators