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Research Process

So, you have a research project. This guide will walk you through the research process, from selecting a topic to doing your search and putting it all together.

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AND, OR, NOT

Library databases use Boolean operators to combine keywords in database searches. Use the words AND, OR, NOT to combine keywords and thus broaden or narrow your search results.

Image of an example Venn Diagram illustrating the Boolean operator AND.Fewer Results

Using the Boolean Operator AND will narrow your search results (i.e. you'll get fewer results). In this case, using AND will retrieve search results containing both keywords globalization and human rights in each result (represented by the center purple zone).

Useful When...

You're doing any search for any specific piece of information! There's a reason this one is the default option.


Image illustrating the Boolean operator OR.More Results

Using the operator OR will broaden your search results (i.e. you'll have more results). In this case, using OR will retrieve search results containing the keyword globalization as well as results containing human rights, in addition to the results that mention both.

Useful When...

If you have closely related terms, go ahead and use OR.

Ex, college OR university

Ex, teen OR teenager OR young adult


Image illustrating the Boolean operator OR.Fewer Results

Using the Boolean Operator NOT will narrow your search results, though it's not as strong as AND. In this case, using NOT will retrieve search results containing the keyword globalization but will exclude any search results containing the keyword human rights.

Useful When...

You keep seeing an irrelevant term in your results.

Ex, Graduation rates NOT England