Skip to Main Content

Library Research: Developing Search Strategy

Boolean Operators

Once you have your keywords, you can use Boolean Operators to create an effective search strategy.

Boolean Operator: AND

Combine main concepts with AND to narrow your search and produce fewer results.

  • safe injection sites AND opioids

Boolean Operator: OR

Combine synonyms with OR to expand your results.

  • safe injection sites OR supervised injection facility OR medically supervised injection sites

The image below shows an example search to visualize how AND & OR work together to create an efficient search.

This is what the search would look like in Lightner Discovery Advanced Search:

Search Tricks

You can use an asterisk (*) at the beginning, middle, or end of a word to create a wildcard substitute for any other letter, letters, or perhaps, no letters at all.

  • For example: 
    • Use student* to get results that use the words student and students
    • Wom*n returns results for both woman and women

You can use quotation marks ("  ") around two or more words to make sure your results show those words together in that order.

  • For example: 
    • Use "college debt" to get articles that specifically talk about college debt instead of getting results that mention "college" in one place and "debt" in another

If you are looking for research studies you can pair your keywords and phrases with the word method*. This searches for Methods, Materials and Methods, and Methodology; which are specific sections in a research study that briefly describes how the research was conducted.

You can pair your keywords and phrases with the terms qualitative research or quantitative research to find an article that contains qualitative or quantitative data.