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.

SOWK 473 Research Guide: Home/Search Tips

Subject Guide

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

Ask a Librarian 24/7!!

Maryland AskUsNow!

Additional Reference Help

This is our email reference service.

Search Strategy Help

Here are some links to Internet sources that can help you build powerful search strategies!


Welcome to the Library Resource Guide supporting SOWK 473! This tabbed guide will help connect you to the FSU Ort Library's resources for researching Social Work 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, 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 other 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 some dynamics of support groups?

The key concepts are obviously the words I underlined:

dynamics support groups

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

dynamics: support groups
group dynamics, interactions, etc. support systems, self-help groups, etc.

Now I can develop either a basic search statement:

dynamics AND "support groups" 

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

(dynamics OR "group dynamics) AND ("support groups" OR "self-help groups")

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.