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ENGL 330 Research Guide (Chapman): Home/Search Tips

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Practice Boolean Search Strategies


Welcome to the Library Resource Guide supporting Dr. Chapman's ENGL 330 classes! This tabbed guide will help connect you to the FSU Ort Library's resources for researching the Social Sciences and give you tips about how to use them.

This page begins with some search strategy tips. Below you find:

  • Developing a Search Strategy for the Research Databases or the Library Catalog
  • Boolean: Combining Keywords (video)

Developing a Search Strategy for the Research Databases or the Library Catalog

When searching the library research databases or the catalog, it's good to have a strategy. Unlike Google or Internet search engines, the databases and the catalog can't interpret natural language or strings of unconnected words. You should identify the key concepts in your thesis or research question and then brainstorm for a few alternative terms and synonyms that go along with them. Then you can connect and combine those terms in different ways using Boolean (see video in box below).

For example, what if you were researching the question:

Is there any information about market share in the computer software industry

The key concepts are obviously the terms I underlined:

market share
computer software industry

 It's good to have a few synonyms and related terms for your key concepts. They may also be helpful in your search!

market share: computer software industry:
competition, market leaders
computer software, software, business software, etc.

Now I can develop either a basic search statement:

"market share" AND "computer software industry" 

Or a more advanced search statement, throwing in some related terms and synonyms:

("market share" OR competition) AND "computer software"


Find out why I combined terms with AND and OR in the video below (capitalization and bold type just for emphasis)!

Boolean: Combining Keywords

This YouTube video from the University of Auckland, New Zealand demonstrates how to combine search keywords using the Boolean AND, OR, and NOT. It also shows you how to apply Boolean searching in a variety of database and catalog search screens.

Subject Guide

Sean Henry's picture
Sean Henry
Lewis J. Ort Library
Frostburg State University
Frostburg, MD 21532