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POLS 8790 (Carlos): Search Strategies

Special Topics in American Politics: Race, Ethnicity, and Politics

Search Strings

To retrieve the most relevant search results, you will need to construct a search string

A search string is a combination of keywords, truncation symbols, and boolean operators you enter into the search box of a library database or search engine.


Are you finding too much or not enough information? Try using boolean operators and truncation symbols, or use alternative, narrower, or broader keywords to vary your results.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are connector words, such as AND, OR, and NOT, that are used to combine or exclude words in a search string for more focused results.

Operator Examples Results

hunger AND "United States"

"food insecurity" AND poverty

Results contain    
ALL of the search terms.

hunger OR "food insecurity" OR malnutrition

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

hunger NOT "Hunger Games"

Excludes results containing
the second search term.

Phrase Searching and Truncation

To search for a phrase, just put your words in quotes. Searching for "United States" will find sources that use that exact phrase instead of having the word "united" in one place and "states" in another.

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

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

Note: The truncation symbol varies by database. Consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages for details.

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.


Thanks to Best of LibGuides and Johnson and Wales University - Denver for the (lightly adapted) content on this page!

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