Public Policy and Public Management

Tips for searching

Tips for searching

When searching a research database (including Google Scholar) it’s useful to know how to search effectively. Using an advanced search and Boolean operators; AND, NOT, OR will help. For a visual description of the three Boolean tools, click on the Venn diagram from the University of Oklahoma.

  • AND for narrowing down the search, the more you add, the narrower the results. For example, tuberculosis AND sociology
  • OR is more. It is useful for alternative words with similar meanings. It can be helpful these terms within brackets. For example, (tuberculosis OR TB)
  • NOT to add if you didn’t want research that uses a specific word. You will not need to use NOT as often. For example, tuberculosis NOT animal, this will exclude all literature with the term “animal”.

Search strategy example; (unstable OR deteriorating OR acute) AND patient AND (elderly OR older OR aged)

“Phrase searching”, this is using quote marks. For example, searching “theory of mind” with the quotation will only show results of this exact phrase.

Truncation * is useful to find words with different endings. Commonly using the asterisk symbol, but this may change depending on the database. Going to the help page and searching truncation, will specific what symbol to use. For example, for child* = child, childs, children, childrens, childhood OR genetic* = genetic, genetics, genetically

Wildcard is for replacing a single character. For example, wom?n will retrieve woman or women

After identifying keywords and then searching a database you can use filters to limit your results to specific resource types and to publication date when necessary.

Searching Te Waharoa for a topic

How can organisations support their employees to achieve sustainability goals?

Watch this 18 minute video for a demonstration of search filters, phrase searching and subject headings