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Health Information Science / Health Informatics

Searching with Boolean operators

Search Tips

Constructing an effective search:

From your topic, identify keywords or concepts that will help you find more resources. List all the synonyms or related terms for your keywords and use the concept map below to construct an effective search.

Search tips that work in most databases:

  • Use Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT to combine your searches
  • Separate different concepts / keywords using AND
  • String together similar search terms or synonyms using OR. As you conduct your research, you will notice that more than one word can often be used to express a concept.  For example, “teenager,” “adolescent,” and “youth” all express essentially the same concept.  If you are having trouble finding information about your topic, try using a related word or synonym.
  • Place parentheses around groups of synonyms (learning OR education)
  • Wildcard (#): The “#” replaces any extra characters that may appear in alternative spellings. For example, “colo#r” finds both color and colour.
  • Wildcard (?): The “?” replaces one character, for example “ne?t” finds neat, nest, or next, but will not find net.
  • Truncation (*):The “*” replaces any number of characters and will find all forms of a word root, for example, “therap*”  finds therapy, therapies, therapist, therapists, therapeutic, therapeutically, etc.
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