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Embedded Librarian

Advanced Search Strategies

Watch this video for an overview of conducting an advanced search in an online database:

Boolean Operators

In your search bar, use the boolean operators AND, OR, & NOT to join terms and focus your search. Using AND will narrow results while using OR will broaden results. ex. Searching "Mental Health" AND "Teens" will provide articles that mention both terms. Searching "Mental Health" AND ("Teens" OR "Young Adults" OR "Youth") will broaden your results to include articles that mention "Mental Health" and any one of those various words for teenagers. 

File:Diagram Explaining Boolean Operators.png

"Diagram Explaining Boolean Operators.png" by Cecelia Vetter  is licensed under cc by CC-BY-SA-4.0


  • Use AND to join concepts 
  • Use OR to join related terms or synonyms
  • Use parentheses to organize your search, similar to the order of operations in math. For example, if you search (Dog or Cat) AND training, the database will search for articles that have either dog training or cat training information. If you search Dogs or (Cat AND training), the database will search for articles that either mention dogs or that mention cat training. 

Search Limiters

Full Text- Check the Full Text box to make sure you'll have access to the full article!

Peer Reviewed- Check this box to make sure the articles you find have been reviewed by experts in that field.

Date of Publication-Adjust the publication date range for the most up-to-date information. 

Exact Phrases

If you want to search for all the words in a phrase in that exact order, use quotation marks around the phrase. Searching: Music Therapy might return articles about music unrelated to therapy as well as articles about therapies that don't involve music. Searching: "music therapy" will give more relevant results that mention both terms. 

Truncation and Wildcards

Typically, the truncation character is an asterisk (*). You can use the * at the end of a term in a search query to substitute for the ending characters. For example: a search for farm* will find the terms farm, farms, farmer, and farming.

The Wildcard is often a question mark - used to replace characters in the middle of a word. A search for the term wom?n will return both women and woman. Searching for colo?r would return both color and colour.

Different databases may use different symbols for this purpose. Look for a help guide or search tips guide near the search bar to check.