Skip to Main Content
Skip to Library Help widget

JOUR 480: History of American News Media

old newspapers

The following website supports the research needs of CSUN Journalism students taking JOUR 480.

  • Research Therapy: Be a Search Boss!
  • Searching library databases enables the use of Boolean Searching (and, or, not) & truncation (*) to combine and expand search terms to identify relevant articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers.
  • Searching OneSearch can identify books (print and electronic), media, articles, and other resources, and also provides the same ability to use Boolean Searching (and, or, not) & truncation (*).
  • What is a Scholarly Article?

Developing Search Terms or Keywords

  1. Once you have chosen a topic, write it down in the form of a question or brief statement:
    • What was Ida B. Wells' impact as an African-American journalist and how have her contributions helped to shape investigative journalism?
  2. Pull out the keywords and phrases that are most specific to your topic:
    • "Ida B. Wells" and "investigative journalism"
  3. Take those keywords and phrases and brainstorm related terms, concepts or synonyms
    • Ida B. Wells > "African-American female journalist" or "muckraker"
    • contributions > "achievements" or "biographical" or "biography"
    • investigative journalism > "journalist" or "reporter"
  4. Formulate a search strategy using boolean search, wildcards, phrases, etc.
    • (Ida B. Wells OR African-American female journalist OR muckraker) AND (achieve* OR biograph*) AND (journal* OR report*)

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand or narrow a search within a database to locate relevant information.

It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:

women or females

women or females

Or retrieves records that contain anyof the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.

women and media

women and media

And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.

image not weight

Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.



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 cataclysm, catacomb, catalepsy, catalog, etc.

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

Report ADA Problems with Library Services and Resources