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SOCI 200/364 Research Guide: Home/Search Tips

Library and Database Resources supporting Dr. Moorehead's Spring 2014 SOCI 200 (Social Problems) and SOCI 364 (Marriage & Family Relationships Classes)

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

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Practice Boolean Search Strategies


Welcome to the Library Resource Guide supporting SOCI 200 and SOCI 364 courses. This tabbed guide will help connect you to the FSU Ort Library's resources for researching Sociology topics..

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

  • Developing a Search Strategy for OneSearch or the library research databases
  • 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:

            Do women in abusive relationships stay married to the abuser?

The key concepts are obviously the words I underlined:

women abusive relationships


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

women: abusive relationships: married:
wives, females, married women, etc.
spousal abuse, battered woman syndrome, etc.
marriage, marital statistics, etc.

Now I can develop either a basic search statement:

women AND "abusive relationships" AND marriage

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

(women OR wives) AND ("abusive relationships" OR "spousal abuse") AND marriage

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.