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English Research: Articles & Journals

Starting Points: Databases

Search Tips

Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators link your keywords together to get better results. The operators are AND, OR, and NOT.


Returns results with all of the terms included. Use "AND" for concepts that all need to be present. For example: "Science Fiction" AND "ecology"


Returns results with one of the terms included. Use "OR" to link synonyms or similar keywords to expand your results. For example: "Science Fiction" AND ("Ecology" OR "environmental studies")


Excludes terms from your results. Use "NOT" to eliminate things that might be related to your topic but which you aren't interested in. For example: "Science Fiction" AND ("Ecology" OR "environmental studies") NOT "film"

Punctuation & Symbols

"Quotation Marks"

Quotation marks tell search tools that you want your results to have your terms together and in that order. For example: searching science fiction would return results that have "science" and "fiction" anywhere in any order, but searching "science fiction" would return results that have the exact phrase "science fiction" somewhere within.


Parentheses tell search tools what order to read your query in. For example, in our search "Science Fiction" AND ("Ecology" OR "environmental studies") the parentheses indicate that the items we want to be connected by the OR are ecology and environmental studies. Without them, search tools read left to right and perform the operations in whatever order they appear.


Asterisks stand in for multiple characters. This is called truncation For example, environm* will yeild environment, environmentalism, environmental...

Pro Tip: Look for a menu called "help" or "search tips" for database-specific syntax and tips. 

Subject Librarian

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Larry Eames
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EPC 218 - Kraemer Family Library