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ENGL 308 Research Guide (Knott): Home/Search Strategies

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Practice Boolean Search Strategies


Welcome to the Library Resource Guide supporting Dr. Knott's ENGL 308 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 OneSearch or the Research Databases

When searching the library research databases or OneSearch, it's good to have a strategy. Unlike Google or Internet search engines, the databases and OneSearch 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:

What are some ways to enhance security against cyberterrorism

The key concepts are obviously the words I underlined:

security cyberterrorism

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

security: cyberterrorism:
computer security, data security, data protection, etc.
computer crimes, malware, hacking, etc.

Now I can develop either a basic search statement:

cyberterrorism AND security

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

(cyberterrorism OR "computer crimes") AND  (security OR "data protection")


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

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