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

Subject Guide

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

Practice Boolean Search Strategies


Welcome to the Library Resource Guide supporting Professor Brewer'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,Library Research Databases, or Government Website Search Engines
  • Boolean: Combining Keywords (video)

Developing a Search Strategy for OneSearch or the Library Research Databases

When you search online library resources, it's good to have a strategy! Unlike Google or internet search engines, the research 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 or statement 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 agreements or diagreements with the statement:

Higher education is the key to higher income.

The key concepts are obviously the words I underlined:

higher education higher income

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

higher education: higher income:
education, college education, academic achievement, etc.
income, salary, prosperity, wealth

Now I can develop either a basic search statement:

"higher education" AND "higher income" 

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

("higher education" OR education) AND ("higher income" OR prosperity)

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.

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Research and Reference Help From a Librarian