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EH 102_Noletto: Researching Community

This guide provides a quick reference for a variety of resources, tools, and strategies to aid you while exploring your topics. Use this to get started, but we encourage you to reach out to a librarian to learn more and workshop your topics as needed!

Search Strategies: Boolean searching

Boolean searching involves building research concepts and terms with, most often, the terms AND, OR

When using these terms, always remember to capitalize them. So, if I conducted a search within Pathfinder or Google, I could do something like:

mental health AND coronavirus.

Now, in a Pathfinder search via the library, for example, that will yield a fairly robust list, as seen here.

However, I could tweak that a bit with the following:

mental health AND (coronavirus OR covid-19)

Notice that I expanded the concept of coronavirus to the more specific covid-19 by using OR to connect these synonymous terms. Use OR when you want to indicate the desire to search for various expressions of a term. Think about something like sports AND identity And adolescenceThis is a decent search, but see what happens when you add some synonym searching to the query: (sports OR athletic) AND identity AND (adolescence OR children). Note that this isn't necessarily a better search, but it is a different search, therefore potentially new sources and discoveries to be found in a conceptual search on this topic of sport and identity. Throw in a domain focus such as or, and see what changes. Also, note that I placed the synonymous terms within the confines of parentheses. With that search string, the research tool has a better idea of what bits of the query need to remain together in certain relationships with one another. 

Try mixing up your own terms with a combination of AND, OR terms to build more complex search strings! As always, we can help with that as needed!