Research Series: Search Strategies

In a previous Research Series post, we learned to identify keywords for our research. Once we have our keywords, then we can begin searching a database.

In order to find information in a database, you must create a search string. A search string is a combination of keywords and search operators (e.g. AND, OR, *) that tells the database the information you want to receive. Here are a few tips:

1. Use quotation marks ( ”  “ ) around phrases (two or more words); this tells the database to look for the words in a specific order.

global warming

2. Put the word AND between each new keyword or phrase; this tells the database to look for resources with ALL your keywords.

“global warming” AND atmosphere

3. Put the word OR between two or more keywords to find articles that use common synonyms for your topic.

“global warming” OR “climate change”

4. Use an asterisk ( * ) to find multiple versions of one keyword.  For example, using pollut* as a search term will include results that refer to pollute, pollutes, polluted, polluting, and pollution.


Here are some examples of search strings in two NOVA databases:

Proquest Research Library

image of this search string in Proquest Research Library database: ("global warming" OR "climate change") AND atmoshpere

Academic Search Complete

image of this search string in Academic Search Complete database: "global warming" OR "climate change" AND pollut*

As always, if you need more help creating a search string or anything related to research, please contact the NOVA Online Library. Happy searching!