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RSENR Graduate Students (2023)

Computer searching tips and techniques

No matter what database you use to locate materials for your research, there are certain strategies that you can use in designing your searches, which will help you conduct effective searches on your research topic.

AND - combines terms; narrows and focuses search   ex.: wetlands and restoration
Most search engines/ databases assume an "and" between terms.

OR - used between synonyms or related terms, broadens search by supplying more options  ex.: conservation or preservation; globalization or globalisation

NOT - excludes terms from search, narrows and focuses search   ex.: temperate not tropical

TRUNCATION - symbol used at end of word or word part to retrieve variant word endings; adds flexibility and depth to your search  ex: environment* retrieves: environment. environmental, environmentally, environmentalist, environmentalism, etc.

PHRASE SEARCHING - varies by database, but in many databases it is necessary to put quotes around the phrase:  ex.: "climate change"


It is good practice to keep track of your searches, what worked for you, and what didn't.  It'll save you a lot of time, and a lot of duplication of effort.  Use this research log template to keep track of your research progress.

Research Log Template

Need help?

If you need additional help with your research for this class, please don't hesitate to contact me.  We can set up a time to meet for an individual consultation, and work through all your research questions.