Skip to main content
The State University of New York at FredoniaReed Library

Getting Started with Research @ Reed Library: Search Strategies

It is helpful to think about your search strategy before you start typing into a database or search engine. If you take a little extra time in the beginning, you will increase the amount and quality of relevant information you find. 

Once you have done some preliminary research and have developed a focus, you should start thinking about the keywords that describe your topic. While seemingly straightforward, selecting and combining keywords that will bring back the most relevant information can be a challenge. Brainstorming ahead of time will make the process a lot easier for yourself.

Log in to your e-Services account to learn more about choosing and using keywords:

Log in to your e-Services account for an overview of basic search techniques:

Boolean operators allow you to connect your keywords together in a search to either narrow or broaden your set of results.

The three basic boolean operators are: AND, OR, and NOT.

Using AND
  • Always Narrows Down (your results)
  • Tells the database that ALL search terms must be present in the record 


Using OR

  • Connects two or more similar concepts (synonyms)
  • Broadens your results, tells the database that ANY of those search terms can be present in the record


Using NOT
  • Excludes words from your search
  • Narrows your search down, telling the database to ignore concepts that may be implied by your search terms



Log in to your e-Services account for an overview of additional search techniques and tricks for searching in databases:

Truncation (stemming) is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings.

  • To use truncation, enter the root of a word and put the truncation symbol at the end.
  • The database will return results that include any ending of that word. 
  • Example: Educat* = Education, Educational, Educated, Educating, etc.
  • Truncation symbols may vary by database; common symbols include: *, !, ?, or #

Wildcards substitute a symbol for one letter of a word.

  • This can be useful for words with various spellings, but still have the same meaning
  • Examples:
    • wom!n = woman, women
    • colo?r = color, colour

Note: Truncation/wildcard symbols vary by database. Check the help screens to find out which symbols are used or ask a librarian for assistance.

Log in to your e-Services account to learn more about refining your search results:

Daniel A. Reed LibraryThe State University of New York at Fredonia • 280 Central Ave., Fredonia, NY 14063 • 716-673-3184 • Fax: 716-673-3185 •