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Many times, a good database search is just a matter of the right keywords. This covers how to develop keywords from a research question, and how to modify them for better results. (Does not work with Google Chrome)
Now that you have some keywords to search, let us think about how we can broaden or narrow our search. Using Boolean operators is a helpful way to achieve more refined results.
AND, OR, and NOT (must be capitalized) are the most popular Boolean operators.
Other Searching Tips:
Use quotation marks to make sure phrases stay together. I.E. "offshore windfarm" or "metal lethargy"
Parentheses tell the database which part of search to look at first. For instance, in the search birds AND ("offshore windfarms" OR "marine windfarms"), ("offshore windfarms" OR marine windfarms") will be looked at first.
Watch this brief tutorial on using boolean operators to improve your search.
You can also refine your search using any databases' filters. They are often a variety of ways to filter a search via refining the publication date, the format (article, book, conference proceeding, etc.), etc.
When you search in the USC Libraries, you may notice a filter on the left-hand side that says “Peer-Reviewed Journals.” And assignments often require you to use peer-reviewed, or scholarly, sources. What does this mean, and why would you use this filter? That’s what we’ll cover in this tutorial.