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LDRS501: Research: Search Tips

Research databases use specific language and terminology. Unlike a standard web or Google search, databases typically are unable to process "natural language," i.e. full sentences. Therefore, when using databases it is necessary to use search terms along with searching language.

Search Terms:

Different databases recognize different search terms, so it may be necessary to try multiple search terms.

Within a database there is typically a link to a thesaurus or subject term list. These can help you determine the best search terms for each database. For Example:

Business Source Premier does not have a specific term for "leadership style," instead it suggests that the broader term "leadership" should be used.

PsycINFO does have a specific term for "leadership style," but does not contain the term "transactional leadership" - a specific leadership style - that is available in Business Source Premier. 

Searching Language:

In a search box you can combine search terms together by using the following language: 

AND

Looks for articles that have both terms

OR

Looks for articles that have at least one of terms

NOT

Looks for articles that have the first term, but do not contain the second term

Truncation:

In a search box you can use these special characters in order to find multiple word forms:

*Asterisk* 

The asterisk is used to find words with the same root:

Leader* = Leader, Leaders, Leadership, Leading

?Wildcard#

The wildcard symbol, usually a ?, replaces a single letter (normally used for plural differences):

Wom?n = Woman, Women

The wildcard symbol, usually a #, adds a letter (normally used for American vs. British spelling):

Colo#r = Color, Colour