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SOCW 1231/3300 Social Work Professionalism: Searching Techniques for Library Databases


Below is an example to demonstrate how the main concepts from a research topic or question become keywords and how synonyms or related terms can broaden your search:

Now that you've created your list of keywords, you will need to combine them using BOOLEAN operators (AND and OR):


Courtesy of The University of West Florida Libraries

The Logic of Searching

Using Boolean Operators when searching will give you better, and more accurate, results.  

AND- Retrieves articles that contain all of the search terms and narrows down the results. 

OR- Retrieves articles with any of the terms and broadens the search.  

NOT- Eliminates articles containing the second term which narrows the search. 

Using Quotations or brackets will search for a phrase as a whole. 

Using Boolean logic and keywords are essential when searching library databases.  If you only search Google, you won’t get very far.  Google uses natural language, which is great when you want to find certain everyday things on the open web, but natural language doesn’t work in databases.