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INTL 4710: Model United Nations Practicum: Searching Databases

Coming up with Keywords

Now that I'm in a database, what do I do next?

  • Look for a link that says "advanced search". This type of searching allows you to have more flexibility. You'll see a search screen with more boxes to type in. You needn't use them all.
  • Type in your search terms. Remember not to type a whole sentence, but to pull out the keywords from your search question. For example, in Academic Search Complete, if you were looking for the impact of divorce on children and any resulting anxiety you might search for: 

"divorc*" (the asterisk will expand your options to divorce, divorced, divorcing, etc.) IN Select a Field

AND (the next row of boxes) child* (the asterisk will expand your options to child, child's, children, childhood, etc.) IN Select a Field

AND (the next row of boxes) anxiety IN Select a Field

Use quotation marks to keep words together as a phrase.

Using AND, OR, or NOT


They're called Boolean operators, and you can use them to fine-tune, expand, or limit a search.

AND limits a search. Searching for "health care reform" AND physicians will ask the database to look for all items that contain all (not just one) of these terms. The more terms you add using AND, the fewer results you will get.

OR expands a search. The search physicians OR doctors requires each result to contain only one of these words, giving you more results.The more terms you add using OR, the more results you get.

NOT rejects results that include a certain term. This is best used when trying to remove search results that you don't want. The search Obama NOT Clinton would remove any results mentioning the last name Clinton that might clutter the results (since former president Clinton also tried health care reform legislation.)

You can combine AND, OR, and NOT to build complex searches using parentheses. For example: (physicians OR doctors) AND "health care reform" AND Obama NOT Clinton

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