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Literature

Getting Started

Loras College Library has over 50 different databases containing books and articles to help with your research. All of these databases work basically the same way, though, so once you know how to use one you can use them all. Simply enter keywords based on your research question and then use the limiting options to further focus your search. Sometimes it can take a bit of trial and error to find a combination of keywords that leads to useful results.

Keyword Searching

An infographic explaining how to create keywords

An infographic explaining how to create keywords.

  1. Identify the main concepts of your research question
  2. Brainstorm synonyms and related terms
  3. Also try terms found in your search results. Specialized language from abstracts & subjects can give better results.

Searching Tips

There are some tricks to entering your keywords that might help you achieve better results.

  1. If you have a phrase you are looking for like “peanut butter”, put quotation marks around it to search for that exact phrase.
  2. There are words called Boolean operators, the most common of which are AND, OR, and NOT that you can use to create combinations of search terms.

Infographic showing how the terms and or and not impact your search results” NOT jelly will eliminate all the results that have jelly in them, so the focus is on peanut butter.

AND narrows your search results by limiting your results to those that contain both words connected with AND. Searching “peanut butter” AND jelly will only provide results with both peanut butter and jelly in them. OR expands your search results by including results that contain one word, the other word, or both words. Searching “peanut butter” OR jelly will provide results with either peanut butter or jelly or both. NOT narrows your search results by limiting your results to those that contain the word you designate before NOT, but not the word after NOT. Searching “peanut butter” NOT jelly will eliminate all the results that have jelly in them, so the focus is on peanut butter.
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Some icons by Yusuke Kamiyamane. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.