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Research Tips

keyword search retrieves any and all occurrences of a given word or combination of words, whether the words appear in the subject headings, title, or description of the article or book.

Advantage: A keyword search expands the search to all occurrences of a given word or combination of words.

Disadvantage: A keyword search may retrieve much more than you want.

subject search searches the subject headings assigned to articles and books. Subject headings are very specific terms and phrases used by libraries to describe what a book or article is about. In order to have these terms and phrases be consistent, most libraries use subject headings defined by the Library of Congress. A subject search limits your search to an exact word or an exact combination of words assigned to a given article or book as subject headings.

Advantage: A subject search retrieves exactly what you ask for.

Disadvantage: A subject search limits you to only what you ask for.

Tips for Searching Online Databases

Multiple Key Words or Phrases: Place in separate boxes or separate by Boolean operators. Don’t string them together all on one line as you would in Google.

Phrase Search: Use quotation marks to indicate a phrase search (“classroom assessment”  "phonemic awareness"  "cultural literacy")

Truncation: Add an asterisk * to the end of a term to retrieve results with multiple endings
For example: educat* will retrieve records for education, educators, educational, etc.

Boolean Operators can help you expand or narrow your search

AND: (“curriculum” AND “middle school”) Narrows your search so that only records containing both search terms come back to you.
 OR: (teacher or instructor) Broadens your search so that all records containing the word teacher as well as all records containing the word instructor come back to you.
NOT: "alternative schools" NOT “charter schools” will brings back records about alternative schools and none that are about charter schools.