Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENGL 300 Research Guide (Branam Armiento): Home & Search Strategies

Ask a Librarian 24/7!!

Librarians on call 24/7 to help via chat! Type in your research question and click Send. 

Additional Reference Help

This is our Ort Library email reference service.

Practice Boolean Search Strategies


Welcome to the Library Resource Guide supporting Dr. Amy Branam Armiento's ENGL 300 class! This tabbed guide will help connect you to the FSU Ort Library's resources 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 OneSearch
  • Boolean: Combining Keywords (video)

Developing a Search Strategy for the Research Databases or OneSearch

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:

What are the aspects of Southern Gothic in "The Little Foxes"  by Lillian Hellman?

The key concepts are obviously the words I underlined!


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

Southern Gothic: "The Little Foxes" Lillian Hellman  
Gothic, south* play, drama, etc. Hellman

Now I can develop either a basic search statement:

 south* AND "The Little Foxes" AND Hellman

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

 (south* OR gothic) AND "The Little Foxes" AND Hellman


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

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