Learn to Search

Start Your Search


Since library databases work a bit differently than Google, you may notice that putting in a sentence or question into the Search Everything system on the library homepage doesn’t give you results you want. Often called “Boolean operators,” connectors AND, OR, and NOT will make the database search for your keywords in a specific way.

Tip! These are in all capitals so that the databases see them as connectors and not keywords to search!

  • AND will reduce your results and only show sources that contain both the keywords it connects.
  • OR will expand your results and show sources that have either keyword or both keywords. 
  • NOT will reduce your results by excluding sources that contain the keyword to its right.

Example: Adding the connector AND in between the keywords picked out from your assignment will make the database search for sources that contain both keywords.

exercise AND "childhood obesity"
Text form of Boolean Operator Venn diagrams
AND (-) NOT (-) OR (+)
Shrinks your search results Shrinks your search results Expands your search results
Only shows results that contain both keywords Will exclude any results that have second keyword Allows for either keyword or an intersection of both
Example: I want both soup and salad for lunch. Example: I only want soup, I do not want salad for lunch. Example: I'm fine with either soup or salad, or even both for lunch.

Click on the image below to open it in a new window.

Venn Diagram of Boolean Operators

Check Your Knowledge

Basic Filters

Look at your assignment (or rubric) again to see what basic filters you will need to use when setting up your search.

  • Date Range: In many areas of learning, you want to make sure the information you are getting is up to date and current. Typically, you will want to select a date range for the past five years. To be sure of what date range you need, look at your assignment and rubric.
  • Peer-Review: For most assignments, you will notice you’re asked to find peer-reviewed articles. Peer-reviewed means that an article has been evaluated by qualified professionals to determine the accuracy of the information and the methods used. The library databases have both peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed sources. To learn more about peer-reviewed journals and articles, take a look at our FAQ: How do I find peer-reviewed articles?

Both of these filters are available to the left of the search results when you do a search from the Search Everything system on the library homepage. For peer-reviewed articles, select the Peer-reviewed Journals and Articles filters. For articles that have been published within the past five years, enter the publication date range and hit apply.

Keyword search example for wound care prevention in nursing from Search Everything box on the library homepage

Tip! Don't see what you need? Visit our Get Research Help page to contact a librarian!