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UNI 104 - Advanced Strategies for Academic Success - Professor Grassie: Search Tips

Search Tips


This page provides helpful search tips for improving your search results.

Narrowing Your Search

What if I have too many results? Try narrowing your search!


  • Add additional key words

All database records have subject terms that describe the resource. Subject terms can help you add additional keywords.


  • Choose narrower search terms

broader search: tourism

narrower search: global tourism


  • Use limiters

Usingfield, content type, publication date, scholarly and peer reviewed, and/or full text online will narrow your search.


  • Search for a short phrase with quotation marks

Putting quotation marks around a short phrase is a great way to narrow your search. When searching for the phrase social media, results include all resources with the word social and all resources with the word media. Searching for "social media" only returns results that have the entire phrase.

Broadening Your Search

What if I have too few results? Try broadening your search!


  • Are you using the right search terms?

Try related terms (you can find these by using a thesaurus or by looking at the subject terms included in each record in every database.


  • Too many search terms?

​Don't include unnecessary words when searching. Focus on key concepts.


  • Is your topic too narrow?

​Instead of rural high school students try high school students. Instead of Huntington, West Virginia try West Virginia.


  • Are you using the right database?

Does the database you are using have resources from your discipline? 

Boolean Operators

Most library databases (and our library catalog) use the Boolean Operators AND, OR, and NOT which are used to combine concepts and broaden or narrow your search.


  • AND searches for both terms and narrows your search results.

Searching for: climate change AND tourism will only return results that contain both terms.


  • OR searches for records that use either term and broaden your results.

Searching for: United States OR U.S.A. OR u.s. OR America is going to give you more results than using only one of these terms since all are used and acceptable. 


  • NOT excludes terms from your search and narrows your results. 

Searching for: climate change AND tourism NOT (United States OR U.S.A. OR u.s. OR America) will narrow your results.

Note: Use NOT with caution as it could exclude results that you could otherwise want.