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MCOM 600: Research Methods Seminar

Search Strategy

Watch the video below to help you refine your search in retrieving information.

Using Boolean Operators

Keywords can be combined with other keywords using the AND (Boolean) operator to narrow your topic. For example:

  • voter behavior AND social media
  • voter behavior AND Twitter
  • voter behavior AND fake news

Keywords can be combined with synonyms using the OR (Boolean) Operator to broaden your search. For example:

  • voter behavior OR electoral behavior

Using Quotes

Quotation marks can be used to search phrases. For example:

  • "social media"
  • "voter behavior"
  • "fake news"

Putting these terms in quotes means that the words will be searched as a phrase rather than each word separately.


Most databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word to retrieve variant endings of that word. This is known as truncation.

Using truncation will broaden your search. For example,

bank* will retrieve: bank or banks or banking or banker or bankruptcy, etc.

Databases and Internet search engines use different symbols to truncate. In general, most of the Library's databases use the asterisk (*) ; however, the exclamation point (!) is used in LexisNexis. Check the database help screen to find the correct truncation symbol.

Be careful using truncation. Truncating after too few letters will retrieve terms that are not relevant. For example:

cat* will also retrieve cataclysmcatacombcatalepsycatalog, etc.

It's best to use the boolean operator "or" in these instances (cat or cats).

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