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How to Do Research

Use lower case
Use the Boolean operator "or"

Use lower case
If your aim is to find everything you possibly can on your topic, use lower case, even for proper nouns. This will broaden your search.
Not sure which variant of a word is likely to produce the best search results? Could it be computer or computers or computing…or, better yet, all of them?

If you only want to do one search, but don't know which variant of a word is best, use a word stem for all variations of the word, such as comput* to retrieve any of the following
words: computer  
The symbol following the word stem (*) will vary, depending upon the database or the search engine you are using. The asterisk (* ) appears to be used most commonly when searching the Web.

Always check the Help function to acquaint yourself with the attributes specific to each search utility you use. Some search engines may not support truncation while others will automatically finds plurals.

The Boolean operator "or"
When you ask for computer or computing, you are asking for either word, which expands your search to include more than just one of these keywords. For even wider searches, you can use "or" more than once. For example, "computer or computing or PC or workstation" would provide a very broad search.

Unit 1: Doing Research: 6 of 8

Information Sources | Selecting the Best | Developing a Research Strategy | Subject & Keyword Searching | Narrowing Your Search | Expanding Your Search | Whys & Hows of Search Syntax | Search Syntax for Life | Glossary

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Last updated: Tuesday, 20-Aug-2002 14:57:17 EDT

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