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WSH Library FAQ's: Search Strategies

What is a keyword?

A keyword is a word or phrase that describes the main concepts of a topic. Before you start searching it is a good idea to brainstorm synonyms and combinations of terms. This will increase your chances of finding information on a topic.

For example, if your topic was capital punishment, other keywords might include death penalty, death sentence, execution, etc..

What is Boolean searching and why should I use it?

Boolean searching is a method that allows you to combine multiple concepts within a topic. This is done by using the following connectors: and, or, not. And is most frequently used to narrow a topic, e.g., 'death penalty' AND race would retrieve all items pertaining to both topics and no items pertaining to either topic by itself. Or is used to expand a topic, e.g., 'death penalty' OR race would retrieve all items pertaining to either topic, which means you would retrieve many items about race that don't mention the death penalty and vice versa. Not is used to exclude unwanted topics, e.g., 'death penalty' NOT race would retrieve items only pertaining to the death penalty and would retrieve no items pertaining to both.

Below are some examples of Boolean searches.

Sports and women

sports or women

sports not women

Boolean operators are not necessary in our main book and article search tools.