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Divergent Learning

Less Known Search Tips

In some databases you can use different search strategies to get even better results. Try some of these!


An asterisk (*) can be used to search for multiple word endings.

Ex. knit* = knit, knits, knitter, knitters, knitting


A question mark (?) can be used as a wildcard.

Ex. wom?n = women or woman


Quotation marks (" ") can be used to search for an exact phrase.

Ex. "climate change"

Getting Started

 Beginning your research

  • Narrow down your topic
    • A topic that is too broad will be hard to research and answer
    • Narrowing down your topic will give you a more manageable amount of data to analyze and a unique perspective on the topic
  • Choose a topic from your own experiences/interests 
    • This will make your research more personable and unique
  • Use your prior knowledge to conduct background research
    • Use what you already know to start searching and getting background information
  • Keep the assignment parameters in mind when choosing your topic
    • Keeping the assignment parameters in mind will ensure you don't go off track  

3 Rules of Searching

1. Use KEYWORDS not whole sentences


Sentence: Why are there a lot of at-risk students not reading at grade level?

Keywords/concepts: “at-risk”; “students”; “reading”


2. Use SYNONYMS for multiple searches


“at-risk”= “susceptible”

“students” = “youth”

“reading” = “comprehension”


3. Use BOOLEAN OPERATORS to create a search string:

  • Use AND in between keywords to NARROW results


“at-risk students”and “reading intervention”


  • Use OR in between keywords to BROADEN results


“physical learner”or “engaged learner”


  • Use NOT in between keywords to EXCLUDE results 


“elementary”not “university”