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SOWK 7226: Evaluation of Social Work Practice: How to Search


Use AND, OR, and NOT to connect your keywords and tell the database exactly how you want it to search for your terms.  These terms help you combine or exclude words in your search for more relevant results.

Operator Examples Results

depression AND intervention

abuse AND therapy

Results contain    
ALL of the search terms.

psychotherapy OR counseling OR therapy

assess* OR evaluat*

Results contain ANY of the search terms, but not necessarily all of them.

java NOT coffee

Clinton NOT Bill

Excludes results containing
the second search term.


You can combine these to make powerful searches. The search

depression AND (psychotherapy OR counseling OR therapy)

will find articles mentioning depression and at least one of the terms psychotherapy, counseling, or therapy.

Truncation & Phrase Searching

Truncation or wildcard symbols allow you to look for variations of words. They often broaden your search results.

Example: searching on sport* would bring up variations such as sport, sports, sporting, sporty, etc. 


Note: The truncation symbol is usually an asterisk (*) but can vary by database. Consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages for details.

Use quotation marks for phrase searching, i.e. "University of Georgia" 

Note:  searching "social work" tells the database to look for these words in this exact order - this phrase, instead of finding social in one sentence and work in another.

Useful Terms

Useful terms for finding interventions:

  • intervention
  • treatment
  • therapy
  • psychotherapy
  • prevention
  • "evidence based"

Useful terms for finding evaluations:

  • evaluation
  • assessment
  • measur*

Search Strategy Builder

This tool is designed to teach you how to create a search string using Boolean logic. Cut and paste the search string results into the search box of a library database or search engine.

Concept 1 and Concept 2 and Concept 3
Name your concepts here
Search terms Search terms Search terms
List alternate terms for each concept.

These can be synonyms, or they can be specific examples of the concept.

Use single words, or "short phrases" in quotes













Cut and paste the results above into the search box of a library database or search engine.
Developed by the University of Arizona Libraries and is used under a Creative Commons License.


Hat tip to Lori Micho of JWU Denver Libraries, for letting me borrow and modify content from her Research Process guide.

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