This is the "Search Tips" page of the "Writing a Literature Review" guide.
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Writing a Literature Review  

This tutorial provides an overview of the literature review process.
Last Updated: Aug 1, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Search Tips

To learn how to construct a search strategy using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), click here.

Most databases and library catalogues allow you to limit your searches to materials published between certain dates, which can help you to reduce the number of results retrieved and focus your searching.

It is often possible to limit your searches in journal databases and library catalogues to materials of a specific type. For example, if you were looking only for e-books in the Library catalogue, you could limit your search by material type using the Advanced Keyword screen. Likewise, a database would likely allow you to search only for articles, book reviews, etc.

As a general rule it is most useful to search using the Advanced Search screen in journal databases. These screens allow you to specify which fields you want your terms to be found in, e.g. subject, title etc.

Searching Google and Google Scholar using Boolean operators is a little different than searching a journal database using them. While it is possible to enter AND in between terms in Google and Google Scholar, it is not necessary to do so. If you want to search for a phrase, you must enter it in quotation marks, otherwise Google and Google Scholar will insert an AND in between the terms. To combine your search terms using OR, you must capitalize the OR. Google and Google Scholar will disregard the OR otherwise.

Ultimately, the best way to learn how to search is to try searching. Experimentation is crucial: trying different resources and different search techniques will help you to build and refine your searching skills. If you have questions about searching, please feel free to contact the Library.


Research Tip

Please note that you do not need to capitalize words in most library catalogues and journal databases, as most are not case sensitive!

Athabasca University Library
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm (MT)
Phone: (800) 788-9041, ext. 6254


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