Skip to Main Content

Getting Started with Research: Combine Keywords

Pirates vs. Ninjas (2:57)

A Step-by-step Sample Search

Change your research question into keywords or search words, like this:
Question: Is there any connection between legal drinking age and crime rates?


Choose a few important words as your initial search words: drinking age, crime 

Option: To find many forms of a search word, for example to find crime or crimes or criminal, use an * after the beginning of the word (this is called truncation): crim* (will find crime, crimes, criminal but also Crimea, so think about the possibilities when you use truncation)

Use  "   "  to keep words together as a phrase: "drinking age" 

Link your terms with AND to find articles that mention all of your search words,

Link them with OR to find any of a list of similar words, putting those words inside parentheses (  ):

"drinking age" and (crime or violence or misdemeanor)

Basic Rules

AND narrows your search - useful if you get too many results. The more terms you connect with and, the fewer your results!

OR expands your search - useful if you get too few results. Try using synonyms with or.

NOT excludes words from your results. Use sparingly! When you exclude a word, you may be eliminating relevant articles in which the word appears.

Using Boolean Operators (2:14)

Next Step: Use Limiters to Improve Your Search

Refine your search results with limiters such as date, peer-review and type of publication.